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THE INCREDIBLE 
MABQUIS 

ALEXANDRE DUMAS 




HERBERT QORMAN 

PARRAR & RINEHART, INCORPORATED 
On M*mr? /////, N 
MCMXXIX 



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FOE 

JEAN WRIGHT GORMAN 

Sometime* the thought of you becomes 
the bright flash of a lunging sword > 
the sudden roil of battle drums, 
a pealing immftefs high aecord; 

and then my world is but a scene 
where I am something more than mm* 
d*Artagmn riding for the Queen 
#r Bwsy dying for Diane, 



PREFACE 

IN approaching Alexandra Dumas ptre one approaches a mountain. 
IT rises from the fair plains of French letters, shaggy, undisciplined, 
less imposing for its height than for its wide base, and curiously diffi- 
cult to explore. Indeed, it would take the better part of a lifetime 
to follow all its trails, ferret out all its secret caverns, and elucidate 
all its incomprehensible excrescences. Yet some idea of its general 
shape and orientation is possible if the major paths be traced. The 
following chapters do not pretend to be exhaustive, for to present an 
exhaustive portrait of Dumas would mean a work that ran to several 
fat volumes. If all his devious days were traced, if all his books were 
analyzed, if all his love affairs were considered, if all his lawsuits were 
set forth in detail, if all his peregrinations through France, Germany, 
Italy, Russia, Spain, and Africa were meticulously followed, if all his 
quarrels were described, if all the stories and slanders and gossip that 
sprang up in illimitable mushroom growths wherever he went were 
detailed, the resultant work would resemble Behemoth among biog- 
raphies. Since that is impossible I have selected, expanding those 
portions of his career that seemed most revelatory to me and tele- 
scoping those portions that were repetitions. First of all, I haye striven 
for readablencss. It was the man's life that I was writing and not a 
critical study of his work; therefore his plays and novels are consid- 
ered only in relation to his career, such critical attention as has been 
included being there only to realize and clarify the mind of Dumas 
and its divagations. 

The authorities for such an attempt are endless and often conflicting. 
There is the autobiographical material put forth by Dumas himself, 
Mcs MSmoircs, the Impressions dc Voyage, and the long series of chatty 
causmcs in which the author wrote about himself. Students of Dumas 
will observe that the first half of this book is founded rather closely 
on Mcs Mimoircs, checked up wherever possible, for Dumas's memory 
was, to put it politely, rather scatterbrained. I believe there is ji 

vii 



VU1 



PREFACE 



cation for introducing so much from Mes Memoires, because, though 
they have been translated in English, no wide circulation was ever 
attained by them in English-reading countries, I can do no more 
than indicate the more important sources, besides Dumas himself, 
that I have depended upon in writing this book. They are, of course, 
French, and include: Alexandre Dumas, sa vie, son temps, son ceuvre, 
by H. Blaze de Bury; Alexandre Dumas et son ceuvre, by Charles 
Glinel; Le drame d' Alexandre Dumas, and Alexandre Dumas ptrc, 
by Hippolyte Parigot; Les demises annees d f Alexandre Dumas, by 
Gabriel Ferry; Alexandre Dumas h la Maison d'Or, by Philibert Aude- 
brand; Alexandre Dumas, by Jules Janin; Alexandre Dumas en 
manches de chemise, by Benjamin Pifteau; Le soleil Alexandre 
Dumas, by Madame Clemence Badere. Besides these books I have 
used the memoirs and journals of Amaury Duval, Villemessant, 
Theodore de Banville, Maxime du Camp, the. brothers Goncourt, 
Fontaney, Hostein, Arsene Houssaye, the Comtesse Dash, Madame 
Mennessier-Nodier, Madame Mathilde Shaw, and Charles Sechan. 
And this is but a portion of the material I turned over, for it was 
necessary to follow the history of Romanticism through a series of 
books, to refer to articles in old magazines and newspapers, and to 
investigate the political and social history of France from 1800 to 1870. 
To pedantically indicate every source from which I extracted some 
stray fact, then, would call for a rather long chapter in itself. Natu- 
rally, I do not expect this work to be without flaws. There are too 
many conflicting authorities, too many clashing dates, too many per- 
sonal attitudes. The literature in English about Dumas is limited, 
and based, for the most part, on French data. Among the works that 
might be indicated are: Alexandre Dumas: His Life and Worlds, by 
Arthur F. Davidson; The Life and Writings of Alexandre Dumas, 
by Harry A. Spurr; The Life and Adventures of Alexandre Dumas, 
by Percy Fitzgerald; and essays by Thackeray, Andrew Lang, Abra- 
ham Hayward, Robert Louis Stevenson, Professor Dowden, W. E. 
Henley, W. H. Pollock, and R. S. Garnett. Every complete literary 
history of France, of course, contains some references to Dumas. 

It is a pleasure to set down the names of friends, acquaintances, and 
kindly strangers who have assisted me with advice and books: Robert 
Aron, Lewis Galantiere, Sylvia Beach, Ford Madox Ford, Carl Van 



PREFACE ix 

Doren, Gamaliel Bradford, R. S. Garnett, William Aspcnwall Bradley, 
Coburn Gilman, Alfred Goldsmith, and Conrad Ormonde. Other 
names have probably slipped my mind. 

Above all, I am grateful to my wife, Jean Wright Gorman, who 
has been tireless in aid, typing the entire script and catching many 
errors while performing this laborious task. 

HERBERT GORMAN, 
April /, 1929. 
New Yor\ City. 



CONTENTS 

Part I: 



Chapter 

I TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL I 

II THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS l6 

III THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 6l 

IV SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST * 83 
V THE BAPTISM OF A MAN IO/ 

VI TAKING THE BASTILLE I4O 

VII THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION IJl 

Part II: MONTE CRISTO 

I THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 2I/ 

II NOMAD 254 

III THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 283 

IV THE KING OF ROMANCE 312 
V THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 357 

VI THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 384 

VII THE CHANGED WORLD 414 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

MONTE GUSTO Frontispiece 

During the years of the great romances Dumas was the 
uncrowned king of Paris 

Facing Page 

THE FATHER OF DUMAS WAS CALLED LE DIABLE NOIR BY His 
CONTEMPORARIES 8 

TALMA 54 

The great actor blessed Dumas when the young man first came 
to Paris 

MADEMOISELLE MARS 55 

Her "temperamental upsets" continually disturbed Dumas 

PALAIS-ROYAL, STREET FRONT - 80 

A VIEW UNDER THE ARCADE OF THE PALAIS-ROYAL 81 

FREDERIC SOULIE . . 112 

This writer was the first real literary friend that Dumas knew 

LES FRERES PROVENCEAUX 113 

Dumas dined many times in this famous restaurant 

MONALDESCHI BEFORE QUEEN CHRISTINE I3O 

The bas-relief by Mile, de Fauveau which suggested the play 
Christine to Dumas 

MADEMOISELLE GEORGES 131 

The shadow of Bonaparte still hovered about her and made 
her an object of awed curiosity to the populace 

VICTOR HUGO 142 

The Sun-God, in spite of his jealousy, remained a good friend 
to Dumas 

ALFRED DE VIGNY 143 

He was one of the Romantic triumphirate with Dumas and 
Hugo 

DUMAS IN 1832 218 

He was once more on the bright crest of the wave of 
romanticism 

an 



xiv THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Facing Page 

DELPHINE GAT * 219 

The Parisian literary world called her the tenth muse 

LOUISE DESPREAUX * 219 

The "page" of Henri III et sa $our 

BOCAGE, in the role of Antony. . . . 230 

MADAME DORVAL . . 231 

She entered the life of Dumas by way of a cab 

BOCAGE * 248 

As Buridan in La Tour dc Neslc 

BOCAGE . . , 249 

In Teresa 

CHATEAUBRIAND . 294 

The old father of Romanticism was a witness at the wedding 
of Dumas 

&TIENNE MELINGUE 295 

As the Angel of Evil in Don Juan de Marana 

THE QUADROON CHEF 314 

Dumas concocting his bouillabaisse of romance 

TIENNE CARJAT'S IDEA OF DUMAS. , 315 

The novelist was always excellent game for caricaturists 

firiENNE MELINGUE 340 

As Chicot in La Dame de Monsoreau 

TIENNE MELINGUE ...... 341 

As d'Artagnan in La Jeunesse des Mousquetaires 

DUMAS TOWARD 1850 . , 350 

He had just passed the peak of his popularity 

ALEXANDRE DUMAS, fits . . 351 

EMILE DESCHAMPS .*....*.,.,,...., 366 i 

He was one of the instigators of the Romantic Movement 

SAINTE-BEUVE ^ ^ 

THE GONCOURT BROTHERS SPOKE OF DUMAS'S FACE AS RESEMBLING 

THAT OF THE MAN IN THE MOON .......,.,... 392 

DELACROIX * 393 

The famous painter was always a friend to Dumas 

LA MENKEN AND THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS. 436 

Ada leaning lovingly on his shoulder and Dumas beaming like 
a satisfied old satyr 

DUMAS m THE SIXTIES 437 

He grew excessively stout in his latter years 



PART ONE 
D'ARTAGNAN 



CHAPTER ONE 

TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 



FOR three days troops passed through the quiet little village of Villers- 
Cotterets, surrounded by its miles of green forest, on their way to 
Soissons, Laon, and Mezieres. They were gaitered giants, legendary 
creatures with fierce mustaches and faces browned by the burning 
suns of a dozen campaigns. They tramped steadily to the thunder 
of tambours and the shrill challenge of trumpets, bearing high above 
their cockades the riddled standards of Austerlitz, Wagram, and 
Moskova in their cylindrical-shaped cases. The regimental bands 
played "Veillons au sdut de I' empire!' Brigade after brigade passed. 
Rumbling ammunition wagons. Creaking caissons. The elephant- 
colored snouts of dusty cannon. Horses with proud tossing heads, 
braided tails, and sweating flanks. Clattering supply carts. Swaying 
shakos and fluttering sword sashes. Long jingling troops of cavalry, 
the men sitting easily in their heavy saddles, their sabers clashing 
against their spurs. Unending serpents of infantry crawling along 
the ocher road, the flash of their bayonets like a long stripe of silver. 
Dark-visaged Mamelukes in red baggy breeches and carrying swords 
shaped like crescents. Cuirassiers. Cannoneers. Hussars. Dragoons. 
The yellow dust of the road rose like a sulphurous smoke about the 
shaggy hoofs of the artillery horses, the slim legs of the cavalry 
chargers, and the stocky calves of the infantry. In less than seventy- 
two hours more than thirty thousand men, guiding horses, wagons, 
and guns, passed through Villers-Cotterets. 

These men were sober-faced, almost gloomy in their attitudes. They 
did not smile or chant to the music of the regimental bands. It is 
possible that they suspected the future, that they understood that they 
were the last desperate cast of the pale-faced gambler who followed 



2 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

them so slowly in his rumbling coach. They were tired. Their legs 
were weary with climbing the Alps, with crossing the plains of 
Austria and Lombardy, with plowing through the Saharan sands of 
Egypt and the glittering snowdrifts along the road to Smolensk. 
Every man was an Atlas. Upon his back he carried the Empire. It 
was time to lay down this monstrous burden. Twilight flowed over 
these marching columns and they pushed forward doggedly. Blue 
night descended, and they dropped their packs, hobbled their horses, 
and sank by the roadside. Through the trees gleamed the yellow 
lights of the quiet farms of France. Cows mooed softly in their byres, 
and watch-dogs barked at the moon. It was pleasant to rest in the soft 
grass by the side of the road and listen to the chirp of sleepy birds and 
arrogant cicadas. A pale light crept through the trees and touched 
to silver the bayonets of the stacked muskets. It flowed over the 
bronze mouths of the silent cannon. The army slept. . . . Bugles. 
Hoarse bugles shouting in the dawn, lifting their metal throats to the 
early sun. A multitude of men rising like miraculous grain from the 
earth. Straps were adjusted and buckles tightened. Kicking horses 
and mules were backed into shafts. The ground began to tremble 
again as the long columns resumed their march. Behind them a 
solitary coach rumbled nearer and nearer. 

>' In the gesticulating crowd which lined the narrow rue de Largny 
of Villcrs-Cotterets and watched the grizzled veterans of the Grande 
Arm& pass was a boy of thirteen, blue-eyed, with long fair curly hair 
just beginning to reveal signs of a crispness suspiciously negroid, and 
with thick red lips that suggested strawberries against his dazzlingly 
white complexion. He was dressed poorly in old-fashioned garments 
that had been cut down unmistakably from the clothes of an elder, 
His tall frame, thin as a lath, quivered to the grumble of the tam- 
bours and the spectacle of the slanting forest of bayonets. He clenched 
his hands and danced to the martial clangor. About him skipped his 
friends, small-town boys and girls in quaintly cut garments. He had 
| not slept for three nights, not since Villcrs-Cottcrets had been sur- 
| rounded by the slowly moving columns of soldiers. The martial spirit 
I of his dead father, that herculean giant called Genml Alexandra 
[Dumas, stirred in him at the sight of the standards and gum and 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 3 

beating drums. As he watched the Old Guard pass through the 
village street he seemed to hear a voice in the air above him, the voice 
of a tired man who had fought greatly and suffered and died at last 
in a bed, with the sword hung on the wall and the uniform laid away 
in a chest. Young Alexandre Dumas barely comprehended the tragedy 
which had befallen his father, but he understood that the Emperor 
was the moving cause of it. The Emperor had not liked his father. 
The Emperor had forgotten the man who had fought for General 
Bonaparte in Italy. He had erased from his rolls the name of the 
diablc noir who had quelled the insurrection in the twisting streets 
of Cairo. He had many marshals, but not one of them had been 
named Dumas. The boy watched the regiments pass, and there were 
tears in his eyes as the riddled standards, close-folded in their cases, 
swept along the street. Vive I'Empereur! Vive I'Empereur! Young 
Dumas turned back toward the meager bureau de tdbac where his 
mother, the wife of a Napoleonic general, eked out her precarious 
existence. 

Couriers on winded horses dashed through the streets of Villers- 
Cotterets. They were exhausted men, in dusty uniforms, bearing im- 
portant orders. They paused at the posting stables, delivered their 
messages, and hurried on. The rumor that the Emperor was to pass 
through Villers-Cotterets, following as was his custom the road 
which his Old Guard had taken, swept through the village. It was 
the twelfth of June, 1815. Between six and seven o'clock in the morn- 
ing a pushing, excited crowd gathered at the end of the rue de Largny 
near the posting house; among them young Dumas. He desired in- 
tensely to sec this man who had destroyed the career of his father. 
He wriggled his way to the foremost rank of the ijiob and waited. 
He did not want to see the coach pass in a cloud of yellow smoke 
but rather when it stopped and the horses were changed. So when he 
saw an approaching column of dust in the dry road he turned and 
sprinted before it toward the posting house. Behind him he could 
hear the clatter of hoofs, the rumbling of iron-tired wheels, the sharp 
crack of the coachman's whip. At the posting house he turned breath- 
lessly and there swept by him three heavy carriages, the horses drip- 
ping with sweat, the postilions powdered and beribboned. A wave of 



4 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

shouting villagers spun him forward and flung him toward one of 
these carriages, which had slowed its speed and stopped. Young 
Dumas gazed into the carriage. The Emperor was seated at the back, 
at the right, clothed in a green uniform faced with white. Upon his 
bosom glittered the star of the Legion of Honor. His brother, Jerome, 
sat at his left, and facing this brother was the Emperor's aide, Letort. 
Napoleon looked pale and ill. His head, which seemed cut from a 
block of ivory, inclined slightly on his breast. He appeared to be 
thinking, to be oblivious of his surroundings. When he heard the 
excited clamor of the populace he raised his pale massive head and 
gazed about him. He looked through and beyond young Dumas. 

"Where are we?" he asked. The voice was weary. 

"At Villers-Cotterets, sire," answered his aide. 

"Six leagues from Soissons, then?" he said. 

His aide bowed his head. 

"Quickly, then," he commanded. The marble head drooped, and 
he relapsed into the semi-stupor out of which he had so briefly aroused 
himseE The sweating, exhausted horses were removed from the car- 
riage, and fresh animals were put in their places. New postilions 
leaped to their saddles. There was the sharp crack of a whip as the 
stable boys who had taken out the jaded horses waved their torn caps 
and shouted, "Vive I'Emfereurl" 

Napoleon made a slight inclination of his head. The carriage disap- 
peared in a cloud of dust around the corner of the rue de Soissons. 

Rumors. 

They flew like ominous black crows over the villages of northern 
France. 

In Villers-Cotterets ten days passed before news came through of 
the crossing of the Sambre, the taking of Charleroi, the battle of 
Ligny and the engagement of Quatre-Bras. These first echoes were 
those of victory. 

The nineteenth of June passed and there was no news. It was 
rumored that Napoleon had visited the battlefield of Ligny and 
ordered assistance for the wounded. Letort had been killed. 

The twentieth of June. Dark clouds and the threat of rain. No 
news. 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 5 

The twenty-first of June. Rain. 

The twenty-second of June. Heavy rains. Black skies. 

The twenty-third of June. Rain. Rain slackening. Smoking earth. 

Gossips met in the cafes and discussed matters. There could be no 
fighting in such weather. The heavy guns would stick in the mud. 
Napoleon . . . 

Suddenly the rumor spread through Villers-Cotterets that some 
men bringing bad news had been arrested and taken before the mayor. 
These men were foreigners and they were mad. They declared that 
a decisive battle had been fought and that the French army had been 
annihilated. The English, Prussians, and Dutch were marching on 
Paris. The fools! 

Young Dumas joined the rush toward the town hall. 

Before the old building were ten or a dozen men, some of them 
still on their mud-splashed horses, others standing in the road. They 
were covered with blood, and their uniforms were in rags. They 
spoke a strange language. They said they were Poles. The villagers 
surrounded them, crying out that they were spies or escaped German 
prisoners. These exhausted men persisted in their tale that Napoleon 
had engaged the English on the eighteenth of June, that the battle 
began at noon, that he had defeated them by five o'clock, that Bliicher 
had arrived with forty thousand men at six o'clock, that the retire- 
ment of the French army before this fresh onslaught had developed 
into a rout, that all was lost, and that they were but the vanguard 
of the fugitives. The villagers of Villers-Cotterets refused to believe 
this tale. They shook their heads and muttered, "You will see." They 
threatened the Poles with imprisonment, with death. The Poles stood 
fast by their story. 

Knots of people met in the street and conversed in low voices. 
Perhaps . . . after all. ... There were white faces and startled eyes. 

Young Dumas and his mother installed themselves at the posting 
house, for there, if anywhere, fresh and reliable news would come. 

At seven o'clock a courier arrived, covered with mud from head to 
foot and on a horse ready to drop with fatigue. He ordered four 
horses to be ready for a carriage that followed him. He answered no 
questions but mounting his winded horse, set forth again toward the 
south. The four horses were harnessed and placed near the road. 



6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Young Dumas heard the rumble of the carriage and glanced up. 
A look of amazement spread across his face. 

"Is it really he?" he whispered to the posting master. That gentle- 
man, who stood stupefied, nodded his head. 

The Emperor sat in the corner of the carriage. The same pale, 
sickly, impassive face bowed over the star of the Legion of Honor. 
The head was a little lower than it had been when he had driven 
through Villers-Cotterets in the other direction. 

"Where are we?" he asked in an expressionless voice. 

"At Villers-Cotterets, sire." 

"Eighteen leagues from Paris ?" 

"Yes, sire." 

The head bowed lower. "Go on," he said. 

It was true, then. 

The widow and the son of General Alexandrc Dumas walked 
lowly home. 

Shattered brigades, weaponless, without drums, poured through 
/illers-Cotterets in a motley crowd. There was no order, no silver 
treak of bayonets, no regimental bands playing "Veillons au sdut dc 
'empire" These men, powder-blackened, in bloody bandages, with 
heir eyes rolling in the fear of death, no longer were a part of the 
ormidable Grande Armee that had marched northward beneath the 
lags of Austerlitz, Wagram and Moskova. They were the smashed 
its of a machine. They were the debris of an Empire which had 
cased to exist. The heavy burden had been torn from the back of 
itlas. 

After the fugitives who had extricated themselves from the carnage 
ime the wounded, first those who could walk or hobble on crutches, 
icn those who could neither walk nor sit on horseback but must lie 
n their backs pressing their hands against gaping wounds swathed in 
ained cloths. For two days this pathetic procession, the funeral of 
i Empire, passed through Villers-Cotterets, and for two days young 
Jumas watched it and compared it with the even ranks of legendary 
iants who had tramped toward Waterloo so short a time before, 
[istory was like that An army was marched up a hill and an army 
as marched down a hill An Emperor placed a crown upon his 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 7 

head and a fat man in a wide straw hat wandered helplessly about 
St. Helena. A stout artillery officer in riding breeches left the Tuilerics 
and a stouter Bourbon puffed his way in. The sun fell upon the 
Vendome column and the rain fell on Longwood. Somewhere the 
Ironic Power turned a page glittering with bees and picked up the pen 
of Time and wrote upon a new page the name Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, 
Comte de Provence, and then, as an afterthought, Louis XVIIL 
History was the interplay of specters in a world that did not exist. It 
was a handful of dates clothed with phantom flesh. 

During the days when Marechal Brune was butchered at Avignon 
and Murat was shot at Pizzo and Marshal Ney executed in the walk 
leading to the Observatoire in Paris, young Alexandre Dumas was 
hunting in the woods about Villers-Cotterets. Brought up in a village 
near great stretches of woodland full of small game, the friend of 
gamekeepers, and with the rare sense of the chasseur bred in him, the 
boy naturally sought his relaxation in running down small wild 
creatures. He was never so happy as when stalking birds through the 
tall trees or lying beneath green bushes in wait for the scurry of tiny 
feet. He had not, as yet, achieved the age of reflection. He was, how- 
ever, the son of his father, and to understand him it is necessary to 
comprehend the type of man General Alexandre Dumas represented. 

II 

General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was born about the year 1762 
at Jer&nie, on the coast of Santo Domingo and no great distance from 
that New Continent where Chateaubriand's bronzed children of na- 
ture traveled through virgin wildernesses. He was the son of Alex- 
andre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie and a negress ^called Marie- 
Cessette Dumas. He was, therefore, a mulatto. Whether or riot he 
heard in his infancy the sharp thunder of voodoo drums in the 
surrounding hills is a mystery. He did not have the gift of graphic 
description which was to be his son's solitary heritage. He was a man 
of action, not a creature of retrospection. 

There is no proof nor is there any reason to believe that Alexandre- 
Antoinc Davy de la Pailleterie and Marie-Cessette Dumas were mar- 



8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

tied. Indeed, circumstantial evidence would appear to run counter to 
any "such supposition. The young French officers and stray court 
adventurers who arrived in Santo Domingo were not inclined to take 
wives, although enough of them settled temporarily with black mis- 
tresses. The government frowned severely upon such mesalliances; 
they prognosticated broken careers immediately. The negresses did 
not expect marriage; it was enough for them to have the guardianship 
of white men either in government service or under French protection. 
Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie laid claim to the title of 
marquis and so far as any evidence reveals he was permitted to bear 
it. Just where he acquired this title is lost in the mists of time. He 
claimed that the marquisate had been created by Louis XIV in 1707, 
but mention of it is not to be found in the bulky registers of the 
period. It is evident, however, that Alexandre-Antoine (who appears 
to have been rather eccentric) came from an important Normandy 
family. He held various positions at court, served with the Due de 
Richelieu at Phillipsbourg where an ancestor of Alfred de Musset, 
Francois de Pray, was killed, and was at one time first gentleman of 
the chamber to the Prince de Conti. By 1760 he became weary of the 
pastimes of the Regency and the reign that succeeded it, and selling 
his goods and estates, departed for Santo Domingo, where he pur- 
chased a plantation. Properly enough, he preferred alligators to the 
Regent. Arriving in the primitive island, he lost no time in attaching 
to himself the black but presumably comely Marie-Cessette Dumas. 

The year 1780 was a year of rumors. Even Santo Domingo was 
permeated with them. To the west of that island a new nation was 
struggling for freedom- Far to the east France waited while subter- 
ranean rivers of passion mounted higher steadily toward a glittering 
crust. Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie developed a nostalgia 
for the frivolities of court life at Versailles and a mild disgust for the 
swarming blacks on his plantation. He returned to France, therefore, 
bringing with him a sturdy black son of eighteen* Marie-Cessctte 
Dumas had died in 1772. 

Thomas-Alexandre made a curious appearance among the Fayettes 
and Lazuns of Paris and Versailles. He was unquestionably a Negro; 
but he was handsome, graceful as a tiger, a formidable swordsman, a 




The father of Dumas was called le diable noir by his 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 9 

magnificent rider, and unbelievably strong. He was also simple and 
importunate. Women (if we are to believe the romantic sentimentali- 
zation of him by his son) adored him. Thomas-Alexandre, however, 
was a man of action with a greater inclination for the battlefield than 
for the boudoir. Women were just another kind of alligator to him. 
For some years, notwithstanding his martial predilections, the young 
man occupied himself with the frivolous life of the caste into which, 
because of his birth, he had been introduced. Then his father married. 
Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie had been in France but 
four years when he took unto his aged bosom another mate. Eccentric 
as ever, he bestowed his name upon his housekeeper, a seemingly 
worthy woman named Marie-Fran^oise Retou. Either Thomas- 
Alexandre did not like the housekeeper or the housekeeper did not 
like her swarthy stepson, for a rift appeared in the hitherto happy 
home of the seventy-four-year-old nobleman. It resolved itself into a 
dispersal of antagonists. Thomas-Alexandre determined to join the 
army, not as an officer (the usual prerogative of noblemen's sons) but 
as a private. This low rank would seem to point again to the illegiti- 
macy of the young man and to suggest an inability on the father's 
part to do much for his black offspring. An estrangement between 
father and son followed, and when Thomas-Alexandre took the oath 
of office to the King in 1786 he enlisted as Alexandre Dumas, discard- 
ing the rolling name of Davy de la Pailleterie. It is doubtful that it 
legally belonged to him. His regiment was the Queen's Dragoons. 
Thirteen days after Thomas-Alexandre enlisted Alexandre-Antoine 
Davy de la Pailleterie died, at the age of seventy-six. His death certifi- 
cate does not denominate him a marquis but refers to him as "Sei- 
gneur Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, knight, seigneur, and 
patron of Bielleville." Like a good old aristocrat he refused to live 
long enough to witness the fall of the Bastille. 

Private Alexandre Dumas joined his regiment at Laon, where he 
did barrack duty, interrupted by various duels, and marked impatient 
time while the French Revolution seethed to the boiling point. The 
subterranean rivers of passion reached the glittering crust and crashed 
through. The National Assembly was constituted; the Bastille fell; 



10 



THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 



the gutters of Paris ran blood; Mirabeau sprang into prominence, 
thundered, and died; the vague forms of Marat, Danton, Robespierre, 
Camille Desmoulins, loomed like fanatical genii in the smoking air 
above Notre Dame; a swarthy artillery officer with long hair listened 
attentively to the voice of Destiny; Alexandre Dumas, now a corporal, 
changed guard, went through military evolutions, and waited impa- 
tiently for the call of Time. 

In 1790 he was transferred with a detachment of troops to Villers- 
Cotterets. How charming the little town was in the sunlight! How 
still it seemed among the green trees! There he met Marie-Louise- 
Elizabeth Labouret, whose father, Claude, was proprietor of the little 
Hotel de Tficu. The black, gigantic-shouldered noncommissioned 
officer observed the village girl with an attentive and kindling eye. 
And Marie-Louise observed the astonishing young man. No one like 
him had ever come to Villers-Cotterets. There were walks in the 
woodland, quiet dinners, the charming progress of a French courtship. 
In November, 1792, Alexandre Dumas married Marie-Louise-Elizabeth 
Labouret. He was no longer a noncommissioned officer; Time had 
begun to move swiftly with him. 

The Revolution had spread like fire through France, and coalitions 
were being formed among the frightened foreign powers who saw 
in this conflagration a grave menace against the idea of hereditary 
monarchy. Leopold I, of Germany, and Frederick-William II, of 
Prussia, met at Pilnitz on August 27, 1791, and drafted that famous 
declaration regarding the reestablishment of the bewildered Louis 
XVI. On January 14, 1792, the National Assembly of France invited 
the badgered Louis to demand explanations from the foreign powers 
concerning this declaration. No satisfactory reply was returned, and 
French troops were ordered to the menaced frontiers. The Queen's 
Dragoons was among the commands so moved, and with it went 
Alexandre Dumas, now a brigadier. Various skirmishes ensued along 
the frontier. At Maulde the young man distinguished himself in 
action for the first time by capturing thirteen Tyrolean chasseurs 
single-handed. 

During this chaotic period all France rushed to arms- While the 
guillotine was doing its deadly work in Paris and other cities, rcgi* 
mcnt after regiment of young, freedom-intoxicated men was 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL n 

working the frontiers against threatened invasions. Eight hundred 
thousand men enlisted and within a year the infant Republic of 
France had a dozen armies at its disposal. The swarthy young artillery 
officer from Corsica was still listening to the voice of Destiny. It was 
a time of quick promotions, when quality of service and natural ability 
outweighed the perquisites of birth. 

In September, 1792 (two months before his marriage), brigadier 
Dumas became a second lieutenant. The next day he was created a 
first lieutenant. Three months later he became a lieutenant-colonel. 
In July, 1793, he was appointed brigadier-general of the Army of the 
North. He was thirty-one years old. In September of this year he was 
made a general of division of the same army. Five days later he 
was commissioned general commander-in-chief of the Army of the 
Western Pyrenees. Thus in twenty months he had risen from a private 
in the ranks to an army commander. It was in this way that adven- 
turous men rose during the French Revolution. 

At Bayonne while commanding the Army of the Western Pyrenees 
(a post disputed him by some of the Representatives of the People) 
he first received a nickname. His chambers opened on the public 
square where the bright red guillotine the mother of the Revolution 
was set up, and when the ghastly hours of execution arrived and 
all the other windows were filled with screaming observers General 
Dumas closed his shutters tightly. The sight of the decapitated heads 
rolling into bloody baskets was not to his liking. The fruit of the 
pikes did not appeal to him. The sans-culottcs, observing this noble 
weakness, gathered under his windows in a dirty, gesticulating, garlic- 
reeking crowd and yelled, "Hah! Monsieur dc I' Humanist Come to 
the window! Show yourself!" In spite of threats the General stood 
behind his closed shutters, a brace of cocked pistols in his hands, his 
startled aides beside him, waiting for what might happen. Nothing 
did happen except the nickname "Monsieur dc I'Humanitt" That, 
in the time of the Terror, was not such a disgrace, after all. 

The General's strength and humanity were his predominant char- 
acteristics. This strength was such that he could lift a heavy gate by 
its hinges, raise four army muskets by inserting his fingers into the 
barrels, fling a recalcitrant soldier over a wall, crush a helmet in his 



12 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

hands, and stifle a horse between his legs. In battle there was a reck- 
lessness about him that was almost legendary. He was entirely devoid 
of fear. He possessed the divine simplicity of the Negro. While he 
was with the Army of the Alps he scaled the heights of Mont-Cenis 
with three thousand men and captured that crucial point. The detach- 
ment climbed the steep bluff by means of iron frost nails thrust into 
the rock, and Dumas warned his men that any who slipped were lost 
and that, therefore, it would be futile to cry out. The cry would not 
save the man but it would imperil the enterprise by warning the 
unsuspecting enemy. Three men did fall and there was no sound but 
the hollow rebound of their smashed bodies from rock to rock. 

Perhaps Dumas's greatest feat was his defense of the bridge of 
Clausen, an example of bravery that won for him the somewhat 
melodramatic title of the "Horatius Codes of the Tyrol" This gran- 
diose nomenclature, which starts a smile now, was natural enough in 
the days of the French Revolution. There were many a Brutus and 
Aristides then. 

Dumas had suffered several reverses by the time this opportunity 
occurred. He had reached his peak as a commander and was already 
toppling. He lacked the astuteness of the young artillery officer from 
Corsica. He was too simple.' He had been recalled to Paris from the 
Army of the Alps to answer charges made against him, these charges 
dwindling to the accusation that he had ordered a guillotine taken 
down and chopped into firewood for his troops. Monsieur dc I'Hu* 
manitt again. He had been acquitted of these charges and sent to the 
Army of the Sambre-et-Meuse. There he had marked time discos 
tentedly enough until, losing hope, he had handed in his resignation 
and gone back to the quiet village of Villers-Cotterets, where his wife 
and a two-year-old daughter, Aimee-Alexandrine, awaited him. But 
Franceor rather the Directory needed him. He had been recalled 
to action and after several disappointing shifts from command to com- 
mand he was ordered to Italy, there to place himself at the disposal 
of General Bonaparte. 

He reached Milan on October 19, 1796, and was cordially received 
by Bonaparte and that warm-blooded Creole, Josephine. How warmly 
Josephine received him is but a suspicion and a conjecture* Bonaparte 
himself that lean-faced adventurerwas suffering from scurvy, and 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 13 

his general appearance suggested that of a walking skeleton. Perhaps 
an inward agitation over the fortune of the next few months added to 
this leanness. Dumas was ordered immediately to the command of 
the first division before Mantua. The campaign that ensued is now 
a part of familiar history. It is unnecessary to outline it. Arcola and 
Rivoli were tremendous stepping-stones for the Corsican. He who was 
as yet hardly aware of that sleepless demon which inhabited his brain 
was already on his resistless march toward the Crown of France. As 
for Dumas, that other adventurer, he was tasting the thanklessness of 
endeavor. His bravery in battle was of no avail, for the jealousy of 
other generals was something against which this simple-minded, 
straightforward officer could not cope, It is possible that he was too 
blunt, too difficult to agree with his fellow officers; at any rate, the 
Campaign ended with his divisional ranl^ being incorporated with that 
of Massena. Eventually, after some complaint on General Dumas's 
part, he was sent to Joubert, who commanded the French troops in 
the Tyrol. It was while he was with Joubert that he achieved the feat 
which gave him the high-sounding name of the Horatius Codes of 
the Tyrol. 

During the rapid advance upon the retreating Austrians the French 
troops under General Dumas reached the bridge of Clausen, which 
had been barricaded by the enemy. Carts had been piled up, and 
behind them with leveled guns waited the powder-blackened Aus- 
San infantry and cavalry. The position seemed impregnable to the 
assault of a detachment as small as General Dumas's. The General 
did not think so. He called for twenty-five volunteers and rushed 
for the bridge through a rain of bullets, his men following him. What 
could they do but follow such a leader? It is the quality of great 
generals that their personalities mesmerize the fear out of their fol- 
lowers. It is the peculiar sort of madness that explains Dumas and 
Cambronne and Murat. Reaching the barricade of carts, Dumas and 
his men managed to overturn them into the rushing torrent beneath. 
All this time a hail of Austrian bullets was mowing down the reckless 
French troops. Scarcely was the bridge clear when Dumas leaped on 
his horse and started down the village street leading from the once- 
JDarricaded span. His aide shouted after him in vain. Dumas was deaf 
to warnings; the fierce Negro who neither reasons nor retreats was in 



I4 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

the ascendant. Suddenly the General was confronted by a platoon of ' 
Austrian cavalry and with one back-handed sweep of his heavy saber 
he killed a quartermaster, gashed horribly the soldier next to him, and 
with the point of the weapon wounded a third. The Austrians, think- 
ing that the devil had suddenly come out of hell and set upon them, 
wheeled their horses in a riot of fear. The chargers lurched against 
one another, stumbled, and fell pell-mell with their screaming riders, 
At that moment Dumas's dragoons came up and the entire Austrian 
platoon was captured. 

No sooner was this accomplished than Dumas, followed by fifty 
dragoons and a bewildered aide, set off in pursuit of a considerable 
body of cavalry which he perceived climbing a mountain on the other 
side of the village. Outstripping the dragoons, the General and his aide 
came within hailing distance of the enemy. "So it is you, schwartzct 
Tcufcir cried the Austrian commander. Dumas was about to set 
upon the Austrians by himself when his aide, who appears to have 
possessed the rudiments of tactical reasoning, grasped the General's 
horse by the bridle and held him back. Prudence was a quality lack- 
ing in Dumas, and it may have been this absence of a necessary char- 
acteristic that did its share in placing the marechal's baton beyond 
his reach. His impetuosity was excellent in actual combat, but the 
responsibilities of his command were not aided by it. As a matter of 
fact, the Austrians had lured Dumas and his small detachment across 
the bridge in order to destroy them. It was the resourceful aide his 
name was Dermancourt who discovered this and explained it to the 
General. Dumas, thereupon, fell back upon the bridge. The Austrians 
were about it and the fight became a shamble of falling horses, men 
with heads cloven, blood, dust, and death. Impetuosity may be re- 
trieved only by impetuosity. Duinas saw that the bridge would be 
cut off from his command unless it were defended. He reached the 
head of the span and held it alone against an entire squadron of 
Austrians hurled upon it. The enemy could advance over the narrow 
planking by couples only, and as fast as they came on Dumas mowed 
them down with his huge saber, Horatius Codes! Fresh troops ar- 
rived and the General was relieved. He had killed seven or eight men, 
had received three wounds, his horse had been killed under him, and 
seven bullets had passed through his cloak. It was brawn and a$ 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 15 

brain that had done this* Napoleon could not have achieved such a 
feat. Neither would Napoleon have fallen into this predicament. 

Egypt. A burning sun. The defense of Alexandria. Dumas, hunt- 
ing rifle in hand, headed the carabineers of the Fourth light demi- 
brigade. Bonaparte listened to Destiny while Desaix marched through 
a parched land toward the minarets of Cairo. The names of the 
French dead were carved on Pompey's Pillar. Aboukir. Rosetta. 
Dejection and discontent among the troops. The Battle of the Pyra- 
mids. "Soldiers, forty centuries are looking down upon you." The 
entry into Cairo. What was all this about? Was the Republic to 
plant a colony here ? What about Cambyses and St. Louis ? This land 
devoured men. There was a queer light in the eyes of Bonaparte. He 
understood now what Destiny said. The generals began to grumble 
among themselves. What were they but pawns in a game they did 
not comprehend? Were they fighting for the Republic or Bonaparte? 
Dumas was among the grumblers. He was ill-humored. He had not 
been given a division to command. He was a determined Republican. 
Bonaparte observed him with a malicious sidelong glance. x 

There was an insurrection in the streets of Cairo. The muezzins 
cried for revolt in place of prayers and the narrow lanes swarmed 
with murderous Moslems. General Dupuis was assassinated. Cannons 
belched through the twisting thoroughfares and Dumas, regardless 
of the sharp knives, rode into the Grand Mosque of El-Heazao on 
horseback. The revolt was quelled. Bonaparte took Dumas by the 
hand and called him a Hercules. But there was a strange look in the 
commander's eyes. Dumas became despondent. He applied for leave 
to return to France. This desire became a mania. Friends strove to 
dissuade him but he persisted. At length Bonaparte shrugged his 
shoulders and bade him go. Dumas purchased four thousand pounds 
of Mocha coffee, eleven Arabian horses, chartered a small vessel, and 
turned his dark face toward France. 

He would never have another command in the French army. His 
career was ended. 

What was all this about? Was it not as much the fact that Dumas 
had seen command after command taken away from him, had 
achieved miraculous feat after miraculous feat only to receive no 



16 " THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

reward, and had been bowed down by a gathering load of grievances 
as it was the integrities of the Republican ardor? 

The woes of Dumas did not end with his departure from Alex- 
andria. The quiet village of Villers-Cotterets was farther away than 
he imagined. 

A fierce storm arose on the Mediterranean Sea and his tiny vessel 
was buffeted fiercely by the gale. It sprang a leak and to lighten the 
boat the cargo was flung overboard. Ten piece of cannon, the only 
defense, went. Then the eleven Arabian horses. After that, the four 
thousand pounds of Mocha coffee. And last of all, the personal lug- 
gage of Dumas and his companions. Running before the wind and 
settling more and more in the malevolent gray-green waters, the 
cockleshell sighted the coast of Calabria and made for the port of 
Taranto. Dumas was under the impression that Naples was friendly 
to France. He was to be disillusioned. 

From March 17, 1799, to April 5, 1801, he was imprisoned by the 
Neapolitan authorities, and during this incarceration he suffered all 
sorts of hardships, among them several attempted poisonings. When 
he was exchanged for the ineffectual General Mack he arrived in 
France a broken man, deaf, and with the first symptoms of cancer 
gnawing his stomach. 

The rest of his life but five years remained Dumas was to pass 
writing pleading letters to his old commanders, to the government, 
to Napoleon, begging for his portion of the Neapolitan indemnity for 
French prisoners and the arrears of salary due him. 

He received exactly nothing. Bonaparte might forget his friends 
but he never forgot his enemies. 

On the twenty-fifth of July, 1802 (or, as it was called then, sixth 
Thermidor, Year X), General Dumas wrote the following letter to his 
friend, General Brune: 

"My dear Brune, I announce to you with joy that my wife gave 
birth yesterday morning to a big boy who weighs nine pounds and 
is eighteen inches long. You will see that if he continues to grow 
in the outside world as he has in the interior he promises to reach 
a pretty fine stature, 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 17 

"Another thing you should know: I count on you to be his god- 
father. My eldest daughter, who sends you a thousand kisses from 
the tips of her little black fingers, will be your fellow godparent. 
Come quickly, though the new arrival into this world does not seem 
to wish to leave it in any hurry; come quickly, for it has been a long 
time since I saw you, and I have a great desire to see you. 

"Your friend, Alex. Dumas. 

"P. S. I open the letter to inform you that the young dog has just 
eased himself all over his head. That is a good sign, surely!" 

It was in this way that Dumas announced the birth of his son, 
Alexandre, who came into the world about five o'clock of the morn- 
ing of July 24, 1802. 

Madame Dumas had been to a puppet show shortly before the birth 
of her second and last child and there she had seen a horrible little 
black devil called Berlick. She turned pale and gasped, "I am lost. I 
shall give birth to a Berlick." She was wrong, for the infant was fair, 
with blue eyes and with light hair. The attributes of Negro blood 
were as yet concealed by time and were not to reveal themselves until 
years later when the boy was approaching manhood. 

Ill 

The earliest years of Alexandre Dumas's life and now I am writ- 
ing of the son and no longer of the father were flashes seen through 
the gray mists of oblivion. Certain pictures, vivid enough in quality, 
stood out in his mind's eye in later times. They were isolated scenes 
out of an infant life whose activities were circumscribed by poverty. 
However, the development of a mind may be foreshadowed from these 
pictures, these flashes of the past, these brief ghosts from a vanished 
world of mingled aristocratic and republican manners. There can be 
no doubt that the mind of the child was a receptacle for conflicting 
urges, that the picturesqueness of the old world aroused his excitable 
temperament, and that the honest austerities of republicanism influ- 
enced his reason. He was both Royalist and Revolutionist. In the first 
place, he was one of that troubled generation born under the suns 



i8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

of Austerlitz. Between 1800 and 1815 a host of young men, conceived 
as it were, between two battles, sprang into an agitated environment 
About them was the debris of a Kingdom and reared on this debris 
was an Empire. An old world of corruption and color and leisure 
and aristocracy cried through the ensanguined crust of the Revolution 
the Republic and the Empire. The young men heard these ancestral 
voices but dimly, for their ears were deafened by the immediate thun- 
der of the Empire. Though their fathers might tell them of vacillating 
Louis, of "the Austrian" woman, of Du Barry, of the colored magnifi- 
cence of a vanished court, they could not pause to listen. Their cradles 
were soothed by trumpets; their fathers were now following the 
eagles; there was an ardent music in the skies. It was the sonorous 
catalogue of victory after victory, the announcement of the tricolor 
flying from half the capitals of Europe. These children, then, were 
bathed in the bright glow of conquest. 

But before they reached maturity all this changed. Setting a final 
period to all this glory, finishing one of the shortest chapters of his- 
tory, God, inscrutable and contemptuous, cast his lot with the hook- 
nosed Wellington at Waterloo. God held Grouchy back and pushed 
Bliicher forward. God troubled the reason of Napoleon and sent him 
his belle Ferronniere so that he might not sit on his horse during the 
eighteenth of June, 1815. God smashed down that edifice which had 
been reared in less than fifteen years. By the time this happened the 
children could think for themselves; at least, the rudimentary powers 
of reasoning were vouchsafed them. Their fathers and grandfathers 
represented two regimes for them; they, themselves, were the inher- 
itors of a third. To children so born, to children whose early formative 
years were passed during fifteen years of military glory and bloody 
phantasmagoria, there must have come a new reccptiveness toward 
the romantic implications of existence. The suppleness and uncertainty 
of history became manifest; the fact that life was not a measured 
thing but a surprising imbroglio of unsuspected occurrences translated 
their imaginations. It was during the Napoleonic era that the Ro- 
mantic Movement in French thought and letters and drama was 
baptized in blood. The stately buskin was laid aside and the cape 
and sword were donned instead. The unborn voices of many heroes 
cried from the d&acle of the Empire, d'Artagnan, Fracasse, Quasi- 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 19 

modo. Dumas was one of these children of romanticism: gusty, 
undisciplined, ignorant and careless of form, sentimental, exotic, 
instinctive. Pedantry and formality did not exist for him. From the 
very first he saw men and women as troubled shapes of flesh and 
blood and the earliest pictures of his infancy were observed through 
the strange mists of romance. It was because of this that he was so 
often an unconscious liar. All romanticists are liars. It is the fault of 
the spectacles through which they look at life. 

Long before the child Dumas had observed the marblelike counte- 
nance of Napoleon returning from Waterloo he had touched hands 
with both the Empire and the old aristocratic ideal that the Revolution 
had smashed. Though he might be buried in his little town of Villers- 
Cotterets the specters of the great world glided before him. He had 
the stories of his father to listen to, stories spun out in the quiet 
evenings by the fire when the swarthy, cancer-eaten General would 
take down his great saber and talk of Bonaparte, of Desaix, of Mas- 
sena, of Joubert, of Murat, of Brune, of Jourdan, of Sebastiani, of 
Moreau, of Kleber. And there were tales that went farther back and 
were concerned with Richelieu, with the Prince de Conti, with Marie- 
Antoinette, with the Regent. There were even a few of these legen- 
dary characters upon whom the boy laid his own eyes, specters to 
whom he was brought by his dark-visaged father, cancer-ridden, 
forgotten by the Emperor, shouldering the griefs of an old cashiered 
officer, begging feebly at doors where justice was a stranger. Three 
of these pictures stood out most vividly in the boy's mind to the end 
of his life. 

About the year 1805 General Dumas decided to travel to Paris to 
make a final appeal to some of his old friends to plead his cause 
before the Emperor. He also desired to consult a doctor. In spite of 
four years' unsuccess he still had hopes of obtaining the indemnity 
due him as one of the prisoners of Taranto, as well as the arrears of 
salary from the years of the Republic, VII and VIIL He took with 
him his three-year-old son. It was young Alexandra's first visit to 
Paris but he remembered every detail of it. There was his visit to his 
sister's boarding school in the rue de Harlay au Marais (for Aitnee- 
Alexandrine, through the efforts of a relative, the Abb6 Conseil, had 



20 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

been put to school in Paris) where the clamorous attentions of the 
schoolgirls, who, charmed by the little boy's wavy hair, sought to 
caress him, outraged the dignified child* There was the immense 
apricot given him by his father as a bribe to permit his ears to be 
pierced for tiny gold earrings. There was a performance at the Opera- 
Comique of Paul ct Virginie in which Mehu and Madame de Saint- 
Aubin played the titular roles, Virginie being decidedly enceinte 
Most memorable of all was a visit to a great house where menservants 
in red livery ushered in the dark General and his little son. It was in 
this house that Alexandre Dumas first touched hands with the past, 
Together with his father he was led through various chambers to a 
bedroom where a gracious old lady was lying on a couch. The Gen- 
eral remained in conversation with her for some time, and the boy 
knelt at the foot of the couch, his blue eyes fastened upon the waxlikc 
aristocratic countenance of the woman who occasionally bowed over 
him and once or twice printed a kiss on his forehead* She was 
Madame la Marquise de Montesson, widow of Louis-Philippe d'Or- 
leans, that Louis-Philippe who was grandson of the Regent. This 
grandc dame from the Eighteenth Century, emanating the fastidious 
manners of a vanished era, was the first of the boy's specters from the 
past. His father had known M. de Richelieu, that reckless gentleman 
who had been placed in the Bastille as a penalty for being discovered 
under the bed of Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, Thus the two, 
father and son, spanned a century between them. At the time, the boy, 
looking upon the face of Madame la Marquise de Montesson, con- 
sidered her no more than a kindly old lady. Years later he realized 
that she was a part of history, of history that had ceased to exist even 
when the boy stared curiously at her waxlike face. 

The day after this momentous visit to Charlotte-Jeanne B6raud de 
la Haie de Riou, Marquise de Montesson, General Dumas invited tvro 
of his old friends to lunch with him. They were Murat and Brunc, 
both mar&haux of the Empire, one of whom was to become a King- 
There must have been uncertainty in General Dumas's mind when 
he sent invitations to these two soldiers, now august personages in the 
court which Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, had set up in the 
Tuileries. But both came, perhaps from a troublesome sense of duty 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 21 

toward an old companion in arms. Murat was cold and distant. The 
shadow of a crown hung over him and he could not compromise 
himself in any way. Brune was as cordial as he had been in the old 
days. Dumas sensed the coldness of Murat and understood that the 
cordiality of Brune was ineffectual enough, for he ceased to plead for 
himself but turned the conversation on his wife and his children, 
especially his son. They, at least, should be aided in some way after 
the father was gone. There was death in General Dumas's face and 
the two marechaux, Murat half-heartedly and Brune with a real deter- 
mination, promised to do what they could in time to come. Dumas, 
pathetically eager to interest these men in his son, called the child to 
him, placed Brune's great saber between his legs and Murat's cocked 
hat upon his head, and bade him prance about the room. "Do not 
forget," said the father, "that to-day you have ridden about that table 
on Brune's sword and with Murat's hat upon your head and that 
yesterday you were kissed by Madame de Montesson, widow of the 
Due d'Orleans." Then he smiled at his guests. Murat gazed coldly 
out the window, but Brune smiled sympathetically. In this way two 
more specters were added to the boy's recollections. Ten years after 
this episode both Murat and Brune were to die sudden deaths, the 
first shot by court-martial at Pizzo, and the second murdered by the 
inflamed populace of Avignon, At that time Alexandre Dumas, aged 
thirteen, was hunting larks in the forest about Villers-Cotterets. 

There was to be still a third picture for the boy. It happened in 
this same year, later than the unsuccessful trip to Paris, which, after 
all, had produced nothing but three specters. The month was Octo- 
ber and the dead leaves, shriveled and brown, drifted in whispering 
flight before the rattling carriage of General Dumas and his son. The 
skies were that sad autumnal gray which presages the icy advance 
of winter. The carriage halted before a chateau half-hidden in a 
bower of trees, and servants, unlike those of Madame de Montesson, 
for they wore liveries of green, ushered the General and his son 
through several chambers, all richly tapestried, to a small boudoir, 
hung with cashmere, where a beautiful young woman reclined upon 
a sofa. The plump outline of her body shone through the thin stuff 
of her dress. The boy was enchanted with her tiny embroidered slip- 



22 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

pers. She smiled often and ate bonbons lazily from a decorated box. 
She did not rise but bade the General to sit beside her on the floor, 
and she played with the buttons of his coat with her tiny slippers. 
She was white, small and plump, sensuous, a bit of Tanagra beside 
the swarthy General with the tired eyes. The boy, mesmerized by 
the soft odors of the boudoir, wondered whether he were asleep or 
awake. The lazy conversation of the young woman was broken by 
the guttural speech of the general. Suddenly outside there sounded 
the clear peal of hunting horns, the barking of dogs, and the shouts 
of riders. Then the General, rising to his feet, lifted this young 
woman and bore her to the window where she could see the stag 
bounding by, the hounds, their red tongues lolling, in swift pursuit, 
and after them the hunters darting through the autumn foliage. 
This was not an enchanted princess in some lost bower out of time. 
The place was the Chateau of Montgobert, near Villers-Cotterets, and 
the young woman in the embroidered slippers was Pauline Bonaparte, 
Princesse Borghese. 

General Dumas grew weaker. His swarthy features took on the 
ashen pallor that betrays the ravages of an inward disease. He rode 
very rarely and isolated himself for long hours in his room, sitting 
and gazing vacantly out of the window while the sad thoughts he 
could not suppress slid like snakes through his mind. He thought 
of the Emperor striding through the corridors of the Tuileries, of 
the warm-blooded Creole, Josephine, in her coronation mantle, of 
the booted and spurred marechaux, of the cockades, the tambours, 
the neighing horses. Young Alexandre grew aware of a still house 
where his mother, already worn with household duties, moved about 
silently and where there was little laughter. Outside the winter shut 
down on Villers-Cotterets. The streets were deserted. At night it was 
extremely dark and a bitter wind came out of the forest and roared 
through the lanes, lifting high the sparks of wood-fire from the 
chimneys. 

There was not much for the small boy to do. He could ruminate 
by the fireplace, perhaps, and wonder what had become of Truflfe, 
the large dark dog that had been a part of the family the year before 
when they had lived in Les Fosses, the small country house to which 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 23 

the General had removed from the rue de Lormet. They were now 
in the little hotel that Madame Dumas's father had once owned. But 
it was no longer the Hotel de I'ficu; the shield with the three fleurs 
de Us had gone out of fashion since 1792; it had become the Hotel 
de 1'fipee. At least the sword was still in fashion. And it was no 
longer owned by Claude Laboured Monsieur Picot owned it. The 
Hotel de Ffipee was not at all like Les Fosses. Truffe was gone; 
there was no gardener to provide the little boy with frogs and grass 
snakes; even the old guardsman, Mocquet, a relic of General Dumas's 
warlike days, had vanished. There was nothing but a few small 
rooms, a sword on the wall, and the winter wind howling outside 
and nosing at the crevices. 

One cold day (it was February 24, 1806) the General received a 
letter. He opened it and read: 

"Just as I am starting for the forest I have received an order 
from M. Collard to permit General Dumas to hunt and shoot. I 
hasten to send it to him with all good wishes, and my sincere hopes 
that his state of health will permit him to make use of it. Our 
sincere regards to Madame Dumas. Deviolaine." 

The General put down the letter with tears of anger in his eyes. 
He had applied months before for this permission, a seasonal per- 
mission which automatically ran from the twenty-third of September 
to the sixth of March. And now he received it on the twenty-fourth 
of February when it had but a dozen days to run. He knew who was 
behind this slight. Alexandre Berthier, Marechal of the Empire and 
Master of Hounds to the Crown, was empowered to grant hunting 
permits. Berthier was his enemy. Berthier had reported him as 
standing and looking on at the siege of Mantua. Sly, malevolent 
Berthier! The General rose to his feet, his face distorted by pain and 
humiliation, and hobbled out of the house. A few minutes later he; 
was astride his horse and urging it down the village street. In less; 
than half an hour he returned and was helped from the saddle, It? 
was the last time he was to be on the back of a horse. He was led 
into the house and put to bed. It was the last time he was to wall| 
on the face of a thankless earth. 

During the night he woke in a delirium and asked for a cane with 



24 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

a golden knob. He had beaten the Neapolitan ruffians of the prisons 
of Brindisi with this cane when they attempted to assassinate him. 
He desired that it be buried with him. Later he ordered that the 
golden knob be removed and melted into a nugget. It was to be 
his legacy to his wife and children. He fell into a troubled sleep 
from which he awoke, clear-headed and calm, in the morning. A 
cold, wintry sunshine lighted the small room, and the dying General 
gazed about him at the meagerness of his possessions. On the wall 
was the sword and near it was his braided coat and the hat with the 
tricolored cockade. There was a box full of documents, letters, army 
orders. There was no mar&haFs baton; neither was there the simple 
order of the Legion of Honor. At the bottom of the Mediterranean 
Sea were four thousand pounds of Mocha coffee and the washed bones 
of eleven Arabian horses. In the coffers of Napoleon was the Nea- 
politan indemnity. There, too, were arrears in salary amounting to 
28,500 francs. The General could leave his family nothing but thirty 
roods of land, now the possession of Claude Labouret, and the rever- 
sion of a house and garden, the rent of which went for life to a certain 
M. Harlay. That was all. Except the sword, the braided jacket, the 
hat with the tricolored cockade and a handful of dusty memories. 
Of course there were the promises of marechaux Murat and Brune. 
The cold and aloof countenance of Murat hovered for an instant in 
the room and disappeared. The General turned on his side and let 
the tears fall on his pillow. 

About five o'clock young Alexandra was bundled into his coat and 
carried away to the house of his cousin, Marianne, in the rue de 
Soissons. He enjoyed going to his cousin's house; there was a forge 
there and a boy named Picard who worked the forge and told thrill- 
ing stories and showed Alexandre how to make fireworks from iron 
filings. Marianne's father, M. Fortier, was a locksmith, and his 
shadow became a grotesque giant as it flickered between the fire of 
the forge and the wall. The little boy sat and watched the fantastic 
reflections and the play of light and shadow until eight o'clock in 
the evening, when his cousin led him to a small room and put him 
to bed. He fell into the deep sleep of children. He was weary, and 
many perplexing things had happened during the day, unknown 
footsteps on the stairs and subdued voices outside a room. 



TRUMPETS AND THE BLACK DEVIL 25 

About midnight he was awakened by a loud knocking at the door. 
He sat up immediately and turned to his cousin's bed, and saw her 
upright, silent and terrified. Nobody could knock at that inner door 
for there were two other closed doors between it and the street The 
boy felt no fear but stepped out of the bed and approached the door. 

"Alexandre! Alexandre!" cried Marianne, the bedclothes huddled 
about her. "Where are you going?" 

Alexandre replied simply. 

"I am opening the door for papa/' he said. "He has come to say 
good-bye to us." 

Marianne leaped out of bed and forced the boy back into his cot. 
He struggled against her, crying out, "Good-bye, papa! Good-bye, 
papa!" 

A dying breath seemed to sigh across his face and, sobbing and 
exhausted, he fell asleep. 

As the clock was striking midnight General Alexandre Dumas, 
once commander-in-chief of the Army of the Western Pyrenees, died 
with his head cradled in the arms of his sobbing wife, 

Madame Dumas, coming down the narrow stairs from the room of 
death, met her son Alexandre, three and a half years old, climbing 
up and dragging a heavy single-barreled gun after him. 

"Where are you going?" she cried. "I thought you were at your 
uncle's house." 

"I am going to heaven," answered the boy, 

"To heaven!" 

"Yes." 

The child strove to push by her. 

"What are you going to heaven for?" 

Alexandre drew a sobbing breath. He said: 

"I am going to kill God for killing my father." 

His mother burst into tears. 



CHAPTER TWO 

THE IDYL OF V I L L E R S - C O T TE R ETS 
I 

MADAME DUMAS was desperate. She wrote the most urgent pleas 
to all of General Dumas's old comrades, Brune, Murat, Augereau, 
Lannes, Jourdan, imploring them to intercede with the Emperor for 
a pension. Most of them ignored or tore up the letters. Time had 
moved on since the diablc noir had led his inflamed Republicans into 
battle, and the very name of Dumas could be recalled only by an 
effort He had fallen by the way as had so many other brilliant 
young officers who had incurred the displeasure of Napoleon. Brune, 
however, went to the Emperor and ventured to broach the subject. 
After all, the man had taken Mont-Cenis. He had held the bridge 
at Clausen. He had quelled the insurrection in Cairo. He ... 
Napoleon turned on his heel angrily. "I forbid you ever to mention 
that fellow's name to me again," he exclaimed. Madame Dumas 
received a letter from Jourdan explaining that pensions could be 
granted only to the widows of soldiers who had died on the field 
of battle or from wounds within six months after receiving them. 
The mother made one more effort. She traveled to Paris and applied 
for an audience with the Emperor. She would face him in the 
Tuileries and plead her cause. The audience was curtly refused. She 
was only the poorer by the money laid out for the journey. There 
was no help, then. 

Alexandre, playing in the room where his father had died, was 
unaware of these heartbreaking negotiations. The spring had come; 
the weather was fair; the chasseurs were plunging into the deep 
forests, guns upon their shoulders. He was beginning to look about 
him and recognize the various aspects of his environment It was 

26 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 27 

altogether charming. There were to be eight years of peace and 
childish pastimes and that blessed unconsciousness of the obligations of 
existence which is the particular privilege of the small boy. Nothing 
was to trouble him except the excitements of curiosity and the fears 
of childhood. Eight years passed swiftly in the village streets of 
Villers-Cotterets, the small room in the Hotel de 1'fipee, the ruined 
castle near the town, the dwelling and town garden of M. Deviolaine, 
the cloister at St. Remy, the chateau of Villers-Hellon were M. Collard 
lived, and the great park of Francois I, of Henri II, of Henri IV, 
and the tiny cemetery of Pleux where the sagging gravestones were 
overgrown with moss and vines. Three of these houses Dumas was 
to love and dream about in later years. 

Next door to the Hotel de 1'fipee was the house of Madame Dar- 
court, and to it the little boy often made his way. Madam Darcourt, 
the widow of a military surgeon, and her two children, Antoine, who 
was about twenty-eight at this time, and fileanore, who was twenty- 
four or twenty-five, were extraordinarily kind to the fatherless child. 
The impressionable boy responded quickly to this kindness. As 
appealing to him as the kindness, however, was the large edition of 
Buffon, plentifully besprinkled with colored plates, which Madame 
Darcourt put in his hands. He learned to read from this book, 
through his eagerness to understand the habits of the batrachians 
and ophidians that ornamented the pages. Thus at the age when 
most children are still spelling he had read this large tome and many 
of the other volumes that formed the child's library of that day. It 
was no small accomplishment in the opening decade of the Nine- 
teenth Century. 

Another household that received him warmly was that of M. Devio- 
laine, the Inspector of Forests for the district of Villers-Cotterets. 
M. Deviolaine, a cousin to Dumas by marriage, possessed an imposing 
house containing suites of rooms. There were also stables and coach 
houses. Best of all, this habitation opened upon a fine park and in 
this park the boy loved to wander. It was a park of historical memo- 
ries, for it had been planted by Francois I. Under its huge trees 
Francois had lain beside Madame d'fitampes, and Henri II had 
wandered with Diane de Poitiers and Henri IV had kissed his 
Gabrielle. The tall beeches and oaks, later to be hewn down by 



28 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

order of Louis-Philippe, were filled with whispering voices. Here 
the boy strolled aimlessly through the flickering sunshine or reclined 
in the long wind-blown grass, his nostrils dilated with the sweet 
smell of summer, and listened to the myriads of birds that tilted 
upon the branches and sang to the day. And in the strange twilight 
he saw lovely phantoms gliding between the venerable trunks of the 
trees. It was upon the bark of one of these trees that the Villers- 
Cotterets poet, Demoustier, wrote: 

Cc bois jut I'asile cheri 

DC l f amour autrefois fidelc; 
Tout Vy raff die encore, ct le cceur attcndri 
Soupire en se disant: Cest id que Henri 

Soupirait frls de Gabrielle. 

M. Deviolaine, through whose house the boy made his way into 
this lovely park, was to play some part in Dumas's future life. He 
was a medium-sized man with small black eyes shaded by enormous 
eyebrows. His lips protruded; his frame was the frame of Hercules; 
he was covered with hair like a boar; and his temper resembled the 
temper of that fierce creature. The wild storms of rage that con- 
stantly overcame him were the terror of his family, and women, 
children, and servants fled from it with heads lowered as though 
they were fleeing a storm. Only once in his life did Dumas hear him 
speak without swearing. In spite of this fury he never struck any- 
body. He was careful to kick at his dog when it was well out of 
reach of his foot. The boy was in abject fear of this ceaseless volcano 
of a man; yet he loved him, and perhaps understood that beneath 
his crusty demeanor M. Deviolaine, also, had his share of love for 
young Alexandra. 

Besides the house facing the park M. Deviolaine owned another 
called St. Remy. It stood in a little plateau entirely surrounded by 
forest and had once been a nunnery, the cloistered life there being 
abolished about 1791. Attached to this house was an immense cloister 
with great staircases outside it, and here on Sundays Alexandre played 
with other children, racing through large rooms where pallid-faced 
nuns had once wept for the sins of the world. It was in the gardens 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 29 

of this cloister that the boy was once startled by seeing two snakes 
engaging in a mortal combat, weaving about one another and darting 
forth their malicious forked tongues. 

About three leagues from Villers-Cotterets lived M. Collard in his 
delightful chateau, Villers-Hellon, and here, too, Alexandre was a 
welcome visitor. M. Collard was of aristocratic descent. His name 
had once been M. Collard de Montjouy, but he had lopped off the 
noble estate name in order not to offend democratic ears. M. Collard 
had known M. de Talleyrand, and his wife was the illegitimate 
daughter of Philippe-Egalite and Madame de Genlis. There was an 
aura of nobility, therefore, about his chateau. As he was the legal 
guardian of Alexandre the boy went there often, preferring Villers- 
Hellon to either Madame Darcourt's house, where there was a Buffon 
but no garden, or M. Deviolaine's larger dwelling, where there was 
a lovely park but also a scowling face. M. Collard had a great garden, 
a smiling face and gentle manners, and a splendidly illustrated Bible. 

It was at Villers-Hellon one evening that Alexandre received a 
shock. He was seated turning over the pages in the illustrated Bible 
when he heard a carriage draw up at the gate and, shortly after, loud 
shrieks in the dining room. Rushing in with the others he saw what 
appeared to be an old witch, a sort of Meg Merrilies dressed in black 
and with a mass of false hair flying in all directions. Beneath this 
disarranged wig straggled limp gray locks. The old woman's face 
was pallid and her eyes glazed with horror. Alexandre flung the 
Bible on the floor and fled for the top regions of the chateau as fast 
as his small legs could carry him, dove into bed, clothes, shoes and 
all, and hauled the blankets over his head. The next day he learned 
that the witch was the illustrious Madame de Genlis who had lost 
her road in the forest and given way to a paroxysm of hysterical fear. 

By the time Alexandre was six years old and no larger than a jack- 
boot he could read and write with celerity. Buffon had given place 
to the Bible; the Bible had abdicated to Robinson Crusoe; Defoe's 
masterpiece had faded away before the Arabian Nights; the thou- 
sand and one tales from the East had folded up their tents and 
vanished at the appearance of Demoustier's Lettres h fimilie sur la 
Mythologie and an illustrated Mythologie de la Jeunesse. The child 



3 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

devoured these last two volumes, and there was not a god or goddess 
or demigod or hero he could not immediately identify. Hercules 
and his twelve labors, Jupiter and his twenty transformations, Vulcan 
and his thirty-six misfortunes, Paris and his golden apple, all of these 
miraculous situations were visible and familiar to the imaginative 
child. It is important to know that he entered the land of romance 
through the exotic Arabian Nights and the Greek myths where gods 
put on the jealousies of mortals. Their influence lasted with him 
through life. He was drawing analogies continually from the myths, 
and what was the cave of Monte Cristo but another Ali Baba's cavern? 
Who is the Jean Robert of Lcs Mohicans de Paris but another Haroun 
Al Raschid wandering through a new Baghdad called Paris ? 

The boy developed a sense of humor at an early age. There is, 
for example, the story of Madame Pivert, that elderly damsel and 
devotee of the bright little boy, who listened spellbound to his recitals. 
Alexandre gave her an imperfect copy of the Arabian Nights, con- 
taining only the story of Aladdin. The old lady was enchanted, and 
returning the volume, asked for the second. Alexandre gave her the 
same book again, which she reread with renewed interest. This lasted 
about a year, and during that period Madame Pivert read the tale of 
Aladdin some fifty-two times. The boy asked her if the Thousand 
and One Nights still entertained her. "Immensely, my small friend," 
she replied. "But one thing puzzles me.'* "And that is ... ?" 
"Why are they all called Aladdin?" 

Madame Dumas grew uneasy. Though Alexandre was still in 
his little cotton jacket she felt that it was time for him to set about 
a serious education. Romantic books were well enough in their way 
but they did not prepare a penniless child for the business of life. 
Alexandre could write now; his mother and Aimee-Alexandrine, 
during her summer vacation of six weeks from the Parisian school, 
had taught him; but more was to be desired. Aim^e-Alexandrine, for 
example, was a good musician and could sing quite prettily. Why 
should not Alexandre cultivate the music that was in him? No 
sooner was the thought awakened than action was taken. Villers- 
Cotterets boasted but one teacher of music, so there was no difficulty 
about that. His name was Hiraux* Tall and skinny, with an emaci- 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 31 

ated and parchment-like face beneath a wig that came off every time 
he doffed his hat, wearing a maroon-colored coat, he resembled a 
figure out of the tales of Hoffmann. He came with his violin and 
for three years Alexandre sawed away at it, to the everlasting horror 
of Madame Darcourt next door. At the end of that time the boy 
could not even tune the instrument. Hiraux explained to Madame 
Dumas that it was like stealing money to take any fee for attempting 
to make a musician out of the boy. Alexandras musical career ended 
forthwith. 

He turned with relief from the violin to the sword. The old castle 
of the Due d'Orleans, near Villers-Cotterets, had been turned into a 
workhouse during the Empire and here the boy found an old fencing 
master, one Mounier. Mounier had been run through the mouth 
by the foil of a pupil, and the sharp point had destroyed his uvula. 
This accident, which had reduced him to an almost unintelligible 
gibberer, had ruined his career as a fencing master. Mounier also 
possessed a gargantuan affection for the bottle. These detrimental 
qualities in a master of fence did not retard the enthusiasm of Alex- 
andre, who, having reached the age of ten, was properly warlike, 
and he managed to glean a smattering of fencing knowledge and 
some skill from old Mounier. 

During this period the boy was growing rapidly and his physical 
development was proceeding happily enough. In after years he 
stated that at the age of ten he could throw stones like David, draw 
a bow like a Balearic archer and ride like a Numidian. He could 
never climb trees or steeples. The horror of high places made him 
ill, and this fear, a form of vertigo, lasted all his life. Once, years 
later, when he climbed to the top of the towers of Notre Dame with 
Victor Hugo, he was washed in the cold perspiration of nervous fear. 

Madame Dumas, remarking the growth of her son and realizing 
that he was ten years old, renewed her anxiety as to his mental edu- 
cation. The violin was a rank failure and fencing would hardly get 
him very far. There were other things to think of, mathematics, 
languages, and ptysics. She cast about for a means of educating the 
boy. She thought of the colleges endowed for the education of the 
sons of superior officers. These were applied to but without any 
favorable result. No one was going to push forward the child of a 



32 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

general who had incurred the enmity of the Emperor. About this 
time the Abbe Conseil, who had placed Aimee-Alexandrine in school 
at Paris, died. He was a cousin to the Dumas family, although he 
had shown them scant hospitality during his lifetime. Dying, he 
made slight amends by leaving Madame Dumas fifteen hundred 
francs, and to one of his relatives, that one to be nominated, he left 
a bursary at the Seminary of Soissons. Madame Dumas drew a long 
breath of relief. Alexandre's future was settled. He was to be a 
priest The boy broke into wild protests at the thought and resisted 
for two or three months, his mother pleading all the time. At length, 
wearied with the struggle, he acquiesced. He would be a priest and 
God help the Church! 

The day before that on which he was to travel to the Seminary at 
Soissons he collected his few belongings, discovering as he wrapped 
the meager bundle that he possessed no inkwell He conceived a 
luxurious idea. He would treat himself to a horn inkstand with a 
place for pens. Pocketing the twelve sous which his mother gave 
him for the precious purchase, he set forth for Devaux, the grocer, 
who also dealt in inkstands. Devaux was out of inkstands but he 
promised to have one that evening. It is on threads as slender as 
this, an inkstand out of stock, for example, that the future of men 
may hang. When Alexandre returned in the evening he found his 
cousin, Cecile, a daughter of the ferocious M. Deviolaine, in the shop. 
She burst into titters at the sight of the boy and promised that as 
soon as he was ordained she would ask him to be her spiritual 
director. Alexandre lost his temper, flung the inkstand at the grocer's 
head, and rushed from the shop. He did not dare to go home, not 
so much from fear of punishment as from a dislike of witnessing his 
mother's anguish. He expended the twelve sous for a huge loaf of 
bread and the greasiest sausage he could find and fled to the forest, 
Where for three days he lived in the hut of one Boudoux, a bird 
catcher. He occupied his time snaring birds and watching tobacco 
drool from the unshaven chin of Boudoux. 

When Alexandre returned, he returned as do all prodigal sons who 
are in the wrongto the arms of a weeping and forgiving mother. 
No mention was made of the hated Seminary at Soissons and when, 
some months later, a powder magazine blew up at Soissons and 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 33 

destroyed the Seminary, killing nine or ten students, Alexandre con- 
gratulated himself on his defalcation from the Church as though it 
had been a bit of prophetical foresight. In the meantime the question 
of his education was broached again. This time it was decided that 
he should attend the "college" of the Abbe Gregoire in Villers- 
Cotterets. It was a far drop from an Imperial lycee or a seminary 
to a mere day school in a village, but it was the best that Madame 
Dumas could do, and of course it pleased the boy, for it meant that 
he should still have his beloved forest about him and that he should 
hardly change the tenor of his life. The Abbe Gregoire was that 
gentle, kind-hearted type of churchman that once existed in small 
French towns. With black soutanes flapping about their legs they 
pass along the yellow roads nodding and smiling to the tanned work- 
ers, who doflf their hats to the greeting. Alexandre worshiped the 
Abbe Gregoire from the moment he saw him, and passed a fairly 
happy period of formal education in the small school of twenty to 
twenty-five students which was so proudly denominated a "college." 
The days when he was free from the rise of the sun to the rise of 
the moon were no more, but he still had his Sundays and holidays 
wherein to hunt and visit friends and relatives, and his evenings in 
which to wander through the quiet lanes of the countryside. He was 
growing rapidly and though the conceit of youth awoke antagonists 
among his comrades he was, on the whole, a charming boy. His 
impudence was the result of his vitality; his vanity and overbearing 
qualities were induced by the memory of his father; his admiration 
for himself was the flaw of an only son. 

1814. Before her shop in the Place de la Fontaine the wife of the 
gunsmith, Montagnon, sat and sang: 

"Le Corse de Madame Ango 
West fas le Corse de la Corse, 
Car le Corse de Marengo 
Est d'une bien plus dure tcorce" 

There was a constant agitation in the streets of Villers-Cotterets. 
Conflicting rumors permeated the town and uncertainty hovered in 



34 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

the air. Napoleon was fighting with his back against the wall. The 
Allied Coalition had invaded French soil, and confidence in the 
Emperor had dissipated. Destiny had ceased to speak to the Corsican. 
The month of January had been momentous in its consequences. 
Columns of troops under foreign flags swept through the pleasant 
Valleys of France, besieging towns and driving a scattered defense 
before them. Colmar. Besan^on. Dole, Landau. Forbach. Chalon- 
sur-Saone. Murat, King of Naples, flung honor to the wind, and, 
short-sighted opportunist, sought to preserve his crown by making 
a disgraceful peace with Austria and England. On the twenty-fifth 
of the month the Emperor left Paris and rejoined the army. He 
immediately took up the offensive and Paris breathed easier. The 
undefeatable would continue undefeatable. On the first of Febru- 
ary the Battle of La Rothiere was fought and Napoleon was stopped 
in his tracks. Toward the end of March the Allies were closing about 
Paris and on the thirty-first of that month they entered the city. On 
April 4 at Fontainebleau the Emperor abdicated in favor of his son, 
the King of Rome. The next day Chateaubriand's pamphlet, Bona- 
parte ct Ics Bourbons, appeared. On the twenty-ninth of the month 
Louis XVIII was at Compiegne. The third of May witnessed the 
entry of the King into his loyal and royal city of Paris. 

During this period of the demolition of an Empire, Villers-Cot- 
tcrets, on the fringe of the field of action, experienced its vicissitudes. 
As the fighting crept closer, at Chateau-Thierry, at Nogent, then at 
Laon, the villagers hastened to bury their valuables in secret places, 
for they had heard of the thievery of the Allies. Most of all they 
feared the terrible Cossacks, those men in round high hats of fur 
and with curved swords. They rode their horses like madmen, it 
was rumored, and fire and slaughter and rapine were the demons 
that rode with them. At Bucy-lc-Long they had roasted the legs of 
a servant; at Nogent they tore a cloth merchant to pieces; at Provins 
they threw a baby in the fire; and at Soissons they burned fifty 
houses, smashed all the pumps, and cut down the fleeing natives with 
saber and bayonet. Madame Dumas placed all her linen, furniture, 
and mattresses in a cellar beneath the house, a cellar reached by a 
trapdoor, and then she had the floor relaid. Thirty louis, her sole 
possession of money, she deposited in a leather bag and buried it in 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 35 

the garden. Fleeing soldiers from Soissons dashed by the house, the 
hoofs of their horses drumming madly on the dirt road. Madame 
Dumas heard the sound of hoofs and cooked an enormous haricot 
of mutton, for she had heard that if Cossacks were properly fed they 
were apt to prove harmless. She also reserved her bin of Soissons 
wine for them. After three days of hanging over the fire and three 
days lying in the bin the haricot was eaten and the wine of Sois- 
sons was drunk by French troopers of Marechal Mortier's corps. 
Alexandre in after years remembered the bent weary form of that 
exhausted marechal as he rode through the village. 

Days passed. Whenever two or three mounted men were descried 
entering the village the awful cry, "The Cossacks! The Cossacks !" 
went up, and men, women, and children fled to the subterranean 
quarries in the fields beyond Villers-Cotterets. Madame Dumas set 
to work and cooked another huge haricot. Her hands shook as she 
labored. The only calm person in the village was the Abb Gregoire, 
who proceeded from house to house in his trailing black robe and 
pointed out that evil comes only from evil and that if no ill were 
offered the Cossacks they would return no ill. Rumors of fighting 
continued. Battles everywhere. Mormant. Montmirail. Montereau. 
Soissons. Troyes. Bar-sur-Aube. Meaux. La Fere. And then one 
foggy February morning the Cossacks did come, fifteen long-bearded 
men with slant eyes and with tall lances, riding furiously through the 
rue de Soissons. They disappeared in the mist and the startled 
villagers crept dubiously forth from their hiding places. In the open 
doorway of one of the houses on the rue de Soissons a woman stood 
wringing her hands and screaming. Alexandre among others ran 
toward her. She was the wife of a hosier named Ducoudray, and 
M. Ducoudray at that moment was lying just inside the door of his 
house with torrents of blood flowing from his throat. He had been 
standing behind the barred door when the Cossacks had passed and 
had suddenly fallen with a choked cry. One of the riders had dis- 
charged his pistol at the door and the ball had torn through the 
planking and hit M. Ducoudray in the throat, severing an artery and 
breaking his spine. 

Madame Dumas decided that neither haricot mutton nor wine of 
Soissons were safe shields against Cossacks and she fled for the 



3 6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

quarries dragging her son behind her. From the quarries they went 
to the farm of a Madame Picot, and there during a five or six days' 
stay they learned of the battles of Lizy, of St. Julien, and of Bar- 
sur-Seine. One morning they distinctly heard the roar of cannon. 
Fighting was in progress at Neuilly-Saint-Front. It was too near, and 
the harried woman, still haunted by the fear of ferocious Cossacks, 
determined to remove her son still farther from the disputed territory. 

Mademoiselle Adelaide, an ancient, hunchbacked spinster possessing 
some thousands of francs income, decided that life in Villers-Cotterets 
was a little too much for her nerves. The noise disturbed her and 
she could not sleep because she was terrified of the Cossacks, who 
had great ugly beards and were reputed to be rather careless of the 
sanctity of womanhood. She shook her hunch and made up her mind 
to hire a cart and drive to Paris in it* Madame Dumas, learning of 
this, went to her, and an arrangement was made by which Mademoi- 
selle Adelaide, a clerk named Cretet, Madame Dumas and Alexandre 
should all travel to Paris in the same cart. The thirty louis were dug 
up from the garden, Alexandre was dressed in a new cotton frock, 
and off they started. The first night found them as far as Nanteuil. 
The second night they reached Mesnil. Here the quartet seemed 
settled for the time being. Alexandre was disgusted. He had set his 
heart on seeing Paris, that legendary city where he had been kissed by 
the Marquise de Montesson and had ridden on Brune's sword while 
wearing Murat's plumed hat. Mademoiselle Adelaide came to his aid, 
for she had heard that there was to be a great review of the National 
Guard in Paris on the twenty-seventh of the month. The idea of 
witnessing this spectacle appealed to her. So on the twenty-seventh, 
without his mother who refused to come, but with Mademoiselle 
Adelaide and Cretet, Alexandre heard the flourish of trumpets, saw 
the waving of trooped colors, and witnessed a small rosy child of 
three being lifted high above the heads of fifty thousand National 
Guardsmen while a hundred thousand voices roared, "Vive Ic roi 
dc Rome!" In this way the son of General Dumas saw the son of 
General Bonaparte. 

Back at Mesnil fear again beset the fugitives. The enemy was at 
Meaux and the advance guard had been seen as far as Bondy, Mesnil, 
then, was in the line of attack. Back toward Villers-Cotterets started 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 37 

Madame Dumas and her son, this time without Mademoiselle Ade- 
laide and Cretet, who appear to have vanished into thin air. When 
they reached Nanteuil they learned that the enemy was at Villers- 
Cotterets, so taking a side road they went on to Crespy. There they 
stopped with a Madame Millet. All around them, at Compiegne, at 
Villers-Cotterets, at Levignan, lay the enemy, but by some curious 
chance Crespy was inviolate. 

The village did not remain safe for long, however. One day the 
short blue coats of the Prussian cavalry were seen advancing through 
the trees. Alexandre from the attic window of Madame Millet's 
house saw these foreigners in small visored helmets with leather 
chin-straps riding behind their trumpeters, heard the shock as they 
met the advance of the French cavalry, and saw the hurricane of dust, 
smoke, and clashing steel as the two commands engaged in combat 
in the street. Clutching the window sash while bullets spattered 
against the house and the terrified women fled to cellars, Alexandra's 
eyes dilated at the sight of men being hewn down from their saddles 
by tremendous saber blows. He saw the commands surge back and 
forth, now the Prussians in the ascendant and then the French, and 
witnessed the disappearance of these ferocious blood-stained men, 
still fighting, into the distance beyond the village. A dead silence 
followed this spectacle. Then the women crept forth and admin- 
istered to the gasping forms that cried from the dust of the road. The 
episode seemed like some black dream to the boy. He shook con- 
vulsively as he held the basin of water beside some ensanguined 
trooper while his mother washed the blood from the wound. 

Days of waiting followed. A fortnight after this struggle in the 
streets of Crespy Madame Dumas and her son returned to Villers- 
Cotterets. In that fortnight the face of Europe had changed. Napo- 
leon had lost France, abdicated, tried to poison himself, been exiled 
to Elba, and Louis XVIII had been placed upon the throne. 

II 

Between the abdication at Fontainebleau and the landing of Bona- 
parte at Golfe Juan stretched a period of eleven months. During 
this time Villers-Cotterets underwent several changes, some of which 



3 8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

affected Alexandrc and his mother. The town, which had been half- 
heartedly Imperial during the reign of Napoleon, became whole- 
heartedly Royalist under Louis XVIII. A part of the demesne of the 
old Dues d'Orleans, it was permeated with loyalists to the Bourbons; 
it had, like so many small towns away from the Jacobin excitements 
of the large cities, an essentially conservative core, and drained as 
it had been by the drafts of the Empire, it welcomed an era that 
signified peace and the renewal of old traditions. There was no 
Vendome Column to thrill the villagers, but there was a great park 
filled with memories of vanished kings and queens. Dumas and his 
mother, as Bonapartists, suffered some uneasiness during this period. 
They were not, in the actual sense of the word, Bonapartists, but 
General Dumas had fought under Napoleon, and the townsfolk, 
recalling the sturdy General and his Republican opinions, confused 
him with the era that had superimposed itself upon the Revolution- 
ary decade. They remembered, first of all, that Dumas had been 
anti-Royalist, and that was enough for them. There were, therefore, 
some vague gibes and reproaches flung at Madame Dumas and her 
thirteen-year-old son. They were not serious, but they were sufficient 
to discompose the timorous widow. At the same time, Madame 
Dumas had her friends, M. Collard of Villers-Hellon among them. 
He it was who traveled to Paris after the Restoration and procured 
for Madame Dumas a license to open and conduct a bureau dc tabac 
in Villers-Cotterets. It was a far drop for the widow of the Horatius 
Codes of the Tyrol, but necessity proved stronger than pride. Madame 
Dumas swallowed her pride and opened her little shop. 

The Restoration had also changed the mode of Alexandra's edu- 
cation. The good Abb Gregoire had lost his certificate as master of 
the little "college" and he was not permitted to teach in his own home. 
He was, however, allowed to visit the homes of students and oversee 
their educations there. So, for the sum of six francs a month, he came 
to the Dumas home mother and son were again living in the rue dc 
Lormet near the house where Alexandre had been born and taught 
the boy Latin. With the aid of a "crib" Alexandre translated quite 
satisfactorily from Virgil and Tacitus. From Oblet, the town school- 
master, the boy received instruction in arithmetic and handwriting* 
Arithmetic proved to be Alexandra's Waterloo; he was unable to pro- 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS^COTTERETS 39 

ceed beyond the simplest sums in multiplication. But handwriting 
was another matter. Here was something that appealed to him, and 
within three months he could write an elegant script. The hand of 
Destiny was at work here, but Alexandre was quite unconscious of 
the fact that this predilection for the quill pen was to stand him in 
good stead, to be his only hope, in fact, when he ventured upon 
Paris as helpless as Dick Whittington when he ventured on London. 
Together with the Latin, the arithmetic, and the handwriting went 
his lessons in fencing with old Mounier. There was horseback riding 
and gunning in the woods. This education, then, was not an edu- 
cation that could produce a youth in any sense of the word cultured; 
it was no more than a rough-and-ready smattering. It was life itself 
that would have to educate Dumas; the city of Paris was to be his 
schoolbook and the ambitions and suggestions of his friends were 
to be his mentors. 

Time passed. Alexandre made his first communion dressed in a 
cambric shirt, a white necktie, nankeen trousers, a white quilted 
waistcoat, a blue coat with metal buttons, and carrying a wax candle 
that weighed two pounds. He was more interested in a pretty child 
named Laure with reddish hair than he was in the ceremony. Yet 
the excitement of religious emotion overcame him for a day or two. 
The Abbe Gregoire, full of wisdom and common sense, remarked, 
"I would rather your feelings were less intense, and that they would 
last longer.*' Dumas's religious emotions were always a matter of 
spontaneous sentimental combustion, so to speak, and his first com- 
munion was his last. Yet he loved to make occasional oratorical 
flourishes about the good God and he generally managed to move 
himself to tears, if no one else. His religion was the religion of 
the sensitive literary man who intoxicates himself with imaginative 

About this time Alexandre met a young man named Auguste 
Lafarge, the son of the coppersmith in whose house Madame Dumas 
and her son were living. Auguste lived in Paris and occasionally 
deigned to visit Villers-Cotterets. When he came it was like the 
arrival of Ic Roi Soleil, for Auguste was quite up to snuff, to put it 
mildly, so far as costume went. Clad in a box coat with thirty-six 
on it ? a w^ch chw* with massive trinkets, trousers so tight 



4 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

that they threatened to split incontinently at every step he took, and 
polished boots h la hussarde, he strutted through the village, the very 
epitome of a young fop. Alexandre looked and his jaw fell. Every 
drop of his Negro blood yearned for that box coat with the thirty-six 
bands on it. Those polished boots a la hussarde held him spellbound. 
And what would he not give for a jingling watch chain that seemed 
to have everything hung on it but the seven Visigoth crowns! Alex- 
andre lost no time in scraping an acquaintance with the lordly 
Auguste. To hear him speak was but to find enhanced the splendor of 
this local le Roi Soldi, for Auguste knew real literary people; he had 
talked with Desaugiers, Beranger and Gouffe; and he could write 
dainty songs. When he drew a gold piece from his pocket and flung 
it carelessly on the counter for some small purchase of Madame 
Dumas's tobacco Alexandre must have seen Monte Cristo. It was all 
wonderful. Alexandre went bird-catching with Auguste and it is 
strange that the birds did not fly into the country boy's mouth, for 
the Parisian kept it wide open with tales of the extravagances of 
Paris. Three days later Auguste, box coat, boots a la hussarde and 
all, returned to Paris, leaving behind him an eight-line epigram on 
Mademoiselle Picot that was an eight-day sensation in the village. 
Alexandre went immediately to the Abbe Gregoire and applied for 
lessons in the construction of French verses. For the first time in his 
life a nebulous ambition to create was awakened in him. It was but 
a momentary enthusiasm, however, for by the end of the week 
Alexandre put aside the bouts-rimts that the worthy abb had given 
him to complete, picked up his gun, and went out to shoot larks. 

On the seventh of March, 1815, the startled mayor of Villers- 
Cotterets learned from the Moniteur that Bonaparte has escaped from 
the Island of Elba, landed on the coast of France in the Department 
of Var, and was marching northward by way of Digne and Gap 
toward Grenoble. During the feverish Cent-Jours that followed 
mother and son kept much to themselves. The angry looks of their 
Royalist neighbors were like tiny sharp knives flung at them. Battles 
were fought; the army and the Emperor passed twice through Villers- 
Cotterets; but the sullen natives watched them go and waited im- 
patiently for the return of the Bourbons. Alexandra's emotions on 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 41 

beholding the Emperor have already been set forth* The mother 
was quieter, for she remembered too distinctly the dark-faced Gen- 
eral who had been broken by Bonaparte. There was a dusty sword 
on the wall to recall the past to her. Yet she must be classified as a 
Bonapartist and, perhaps in her heart of hearts she knew that this 
was so, that of two evils, Bonaparte and Bourbon, Bonaparte seemed 
to her the least. It was not so with Villers-Cotterets. The triumphant 
Royalists witnessed the debacle of Napoleon's last attempt with a calm 
pleasure after the momentary shock to their national pride caused by 
Waterloo, and the town settled back into its usual sleepy existence. 
As for Alexandre, he picked up his gun again and went looking for 
larks. This was a much pleasanter pastime than striving to patch up 
a crumbled Empire. Humpty Dumpty could never be put back on 
the wall again. 

Early in 1818 Alexandre became a man of business. Madame 
Dumas, uneasy for her son's future, observing that he did nothing 
but hunt in the woods with forest rangers and gamekeepers, crossed 
the square from her house one morning and called on Maitre Men- 
nesson, her solicitor. Maitre Mennesson, a sturdy, red-haired, sharp- 
eyed, teasing-mouthed man of thirty-five received her with a smile. 
He suspected her purpose. Having failed miserably to traasfef trr her 
son into a priest^ she had (ieciSed to make a lawyer pfjim. Very 
well. Maitre Mennesson was accommodating. He would take the 
boy into his office as third clerk, which was tantamount to saying 
he could sharpen quill pens, fill the inkwells, and put away thei 
ledgers. "Unless I am greatly mistaken," he remarked, "Alexandre I 
cares too much for la marette, la fipee, and hunting ever to become 
an assiduous pupil of Cujas and Pothier." La marette was a method 
of lime-twigging birds along forest pools or marer y la fipSe was 
catching them in the same way by inserting the twigs coated with 
birdlime in the top branches of trees. Maitre Mennesson, who had 
read Voltaire and become a Republican before Republicans existed, 
was an astute man* It was not for nothing that he had committed 
the most impious and licentious passages of La Pucelle to memory 
and would recite them after dinner, accompanying the recitation with 



42 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

a sly smile. Every small town has its atheist; it is generally th 
lawyer. 

Alexandra did care too much for la marettc and la pipc, but h 
went to work in Maitre Mennesson's office, nevertheless. It gave hin 
some pain to be shut up a greater part of the day, but he recalled tha 
Auguste Lafarge had started in the same way and that August 
possessed a box coat with thirty-six bands on it. Without too mud 
protest, then, the young man settled himself to sharpen quill pen 
and fill inkwells. Maitre Mennesson did not prove a hard master 
and the two clerks, Niguet and Cousin, were pleasant enough 
Alexandre discovered that he was not to be shut up too tightly afte] 
all, for part of his duties was to carry deeds to various houses in th< 
neighborhood for signature. If it were not in season he would g< 
at night and set bird snares along the pools on his route. Time passec 
in this way and the office was occasionally enlivened when som< 
unsuspecting visitor would inadvertently say a good word for the 
priests or praise the Bourbons. Then Maitre Mennesson's maliciou; 
little eyes would sharpen and he would take down an Old Testamem 
or a history of France, open it, and offer the most ribald comments 

The month of May came. Now May is a fatal month to impression- 
able youths of sixteen, and Alexandre would be sixteen in two months 
He fell in love, and like all young men in love for the first time, he 
made the veriest booby of himself. The Whitsuntide festival was at 
its height in Villers-Cotterets and the great park was filled with 
laughing people from Ferte-Milon, Crespy, Soissons, Chateau-Thierry, 
Compiegne, even from Paris, people who were in holiday attire and 
who drank deeply, danced madly, and laughed uproariously. Among 
the visitors were two young girls, one a niece of the Abbe Grgoire 
named Laurence and the other her friend, a young woman of Spanish 
extraction called Vittoria. Alexandre, who had boasted of his dancing 
abilities, had been appointed cavalier to the two young women by 
the worthy abb. He determined to fill his office in proper style, read 
the Aventures du Chevalier Faublas to learn the sophisticated attitude 
toward young women, put on his first communion costume of white 
nankeen breeches and blue coat, and strutted off to the festival looking 
like the caricature of an old man of the previous era. Mademoiselle 
Laurence ww tell and willowy and Md<?m<?isell<? Vittpria was pale 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 43 

and stout. Alexandra, proudly ignoring the remarks of his comrades 
about his skinny calves, fell in love twice. While he was walking 
beside the tall, thin Mademoiselle Laurence a certain M. Miaud, a 
young Parisian employed at the castle, lifted his eyeglass and gazed 
in wonder at Alexandra "Ah! Ah!" he said. "There is Dumas going 
to his first communion again, only he has changed his taper.'* The 
young ladies tittered and Alexandra flushed. He began to realize that 
a first communion costume of 1816 was really not the height of 
fashion for a young buck of 1818. He decided to redeem himself 
by a feat of strength, and when the trio came to a wolf leap popularly 
known as the Haha he announced that he could jump it. The young 
ladies murmured something to the effect of "What of it?" but the 
enamored youth, ignoring this lukewarm urge, drew himself up and 
by a tremendous effort shot across the chasm. The minute he landed 
there was a loud ominous rip and the seat of his white nankeen 
breeches split apart as though they had been struck by a bolt of 
lightning. This stroke was decisive. Alexandra dashed for home, 
leaving the stunned maidens behind him. Madame Dumas sewed 
up the rent and Alexandra, refreshing himself with a huge glass of 
cider, returned to the festival. The first person he saw was the 
obnoxious Miaud. "Ah!" murmured that young gentleman to him- 
self. "See what it is to wear breeches." He passed, shaking his head 
sadly, and Alexandra glared after him like a wild boar. Nothing 
went right after this. The youth discovered that he had forgotten 
his gloves and was forced to borrow a pair from an obliging friend, 
not, it may be said, M. Miaud. He made the fatal mistake of telling 
Mademoiselle Vittoria that he had learned to dance with a chair for 
a partner. His stumbling self-consciousness, his countrified manners, 
his entire ignorance of the small artificialities of social intercourse, 
all these things militated against his success with the young women 
who had been accustomed to the easy frivolities of Paris. A day or 
two later Alexandra received a note from Mademoiselle Laurence in 
which she relieved him of further responsibility as an escort, explain- 
ing that M. Miaud would perform that happy office, and advising 
the youth to return to his young playmates who were waiting for 
him to resume his position at prisoner's base. The result of this 
episode on Alexandra's life was tremendous; for the first time he 



44 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

became aware of his social deficiencies; he saw himself as a ridiculous 
young bumpkin; and he determined to change. The day that he 
leaped across the Haha he ceased to be a boy. That chasm was his 
Rubicon. Once on the other side he saw a world of women and 
social elegancies and understood, at first vaguely, perhaps, how far 
and how difficult the road was which he would have to travel. The 
days of carefree bird snaring and childish pursuits were over and an 
ambition to understand and enter the great world of polite affairs 
was planted in his lathlike frame. 

He became quieter and a brooding look crept into his eyes. When 

a boy changes to a man and the passions of a man flood him like 

a fiery bath he enters a new world that is alternately horrible and 

filled with unearthly beauty. The girls with whom he has played 

cease to be children and take on the aspect of women. A strangeness 

like a veil rises between him and the unconscious spontaneities of 

boyhood. Rounded bosoms and slender waists and lithe brown calves 

become perceptible where they had never seemed to exist before. 

It was so with Alexandre. He began to observe the young girls of 

Villers-Cotterets. There were the Troisvallet sisters, Clementine, dark 

and with flowing black hair, and Henriette, tall and rosy and pliant 

as a willow tree. There were Sophie and Pelagic Perrot, Louise 

Moreau, fileanore Picot, Augustine Deviolaine, Louise Collard, Jos6- 

phine and Manette Thierry, Louise Brezette, Albine Hardi, and 

Adele Dalvin. A garden of girls suddenly bloomed before him, 

slender, charming, wide-eyed and laughing, running through the 

meadows on summer days with their pink and blue sashes fluttering 

behind them, their tiny bonnets at coquettish angles, their pale arms 

interlaced. He had not seen these girls before Mademoiselle Laurence 

and Mademoiselle Vittoria came to Villers-Cotterets and awoke him 

abruptly to the fact of his clumsy boyhood. They had merely been 

figures moving through his ordinary world; now they took on the 

aspects of a summer garden, a springtide crown of stars and flowers. 

He drew himself to his full height, played no longer with children, 

told anyone who asked that he was seventeen years old, and brushed 

his hair and boots every morning. One girl among this bevy stood 

out in bright relief. She was fair and pink-complexioned and had 

golden hair and sweet eyes and a charming smile. She was short 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 45 

rather than tall, plump rather than thin. She was something between 
a Watteau shepherdess and one of Greuze's peasant girls. Her name 
was Adele Dalvin and she was employed in a milliner's shop. Before 
the summer was over Alexandre possessed a sweetheart and there 
began in his bosom that delicious struggle of love which asks unceas- 
ingly and is never discouraged, that seeks for favor after favor and 
finds the least of them a heaven in itself, that is restless with the 
restlessness of youth and that is almost as brief as the summer itself. 

If the fact of a regular position with Maitre Mennesson awakened 
Alexandre to the responsibilities of livelihood and if the coming of 
Mademoiselle Laurence and Mademoiselle Vittoria revealed to him 
the abrupt chasm between unthinking boyhood and the desires of 
a man, there was yet a third episode during this year to teach him 
the sweet insanity of ambition. It was his meeting with Adolphe de 
Leuven. Adolphe, son of that Count Adolphe-Louis Ribbing de 
Leuven, who was one of the three Swedish noblemen inculpated in 
the murder of Gustavus III, had come with his father for a visit to 
the Collards at Villers-Hellon, and there, in the company of Caroline 
Collard, Alexandre first met him. De Leuven, at this time, was 
between sixteen and seventeen, a tall, dark, and gaunt young man 
with good eyes, a prominent nose, black hair cut like bristles, and 
an aristocratic bearing. He was to set afire eternally and for all time \ 
that slumbering desire in Alexandre from which Auguste Lafarge 
had struck so brief a spark. In other words, he was to awaken in 
young Dumas the desire to create literature, to write plays, to compose 
poetry. 

The two young men met and responded to one another immediately 
and without reservation. Adolphe was gracious, intelligent, familiar 
with the Parisian scene; Alexandre was naive, painfully anxious to 
please, entirely ignorant of anything outside of Villers-Cotterets, en- 
chanted by Adolphe. It was Adolphe who explained poetry to him; 
it was he who explained the habits of the water hen to Adolphe. 
Thus they exchanged the knowledge of the city for the knowledge 
of the country, the knowledge of Arnault and Ancelot for the knowl- 
edge of the wild boar and the soaring larks of the forest. It was an 
excellent exchange, for both men profited by it and when Adolphe, 



46 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

his short visit at Villers-Hellon terminated, departed for Paris he left 
behind him a young man whose breast fostered the most ambitious 
designs. Alexandre was fully aware of his ignorance at last; he knew 
that he must study, that he must learn languages, that the cultivation 
of the mind is more important than expert placing of lime twigs in 
the branches of high trees. When he had entered the office of Maitre 
Mennesson his education under the Abbe Gregoire had ceased, and 
indeed what had that given him after all, but the veriest scraps of 
formal learning, a few tags of Latin, the ability to scan alexandrines ? 
The young man who now divided his time between the errands of 
Maitre Mennesson and rapturous trysts with the blonde Adele Dalvin, 
cast about him for a new instructor. It was not long before Alexandre 
happened upon a certain Amedee de la Ponce, an officer of Hussars 
who had settled in Villers-Cotterets. Amedee taught him the virtues 
of hard work, taught him that love and hunting and dancing were 
well enough in their way but that there was a higher objective for 
the ambitious young man. He started to teach Alexandre Italian and 
German, two languages which the young officer spoke with fluency. 
One of the books from which Alexandre learned Italian was Ugo 
Foscolo's romance, which he was later to translate into French as 
the Dern&res Lettrcs de Jacopo Ortis. Italian proved easy, for it was 
a Latin language and akin to Alexandra's nature, but German he 
found difficult. It was only through the continued prodding and 
urging of Amedee that the young man kept at it, and even so the 
tongue of Goethe never became more to Dumas than a readable 
language/ while Italian became a second mother tongue. So hard 
and well-occupied weeks passed. Adele loved him but would not 
succumb to his passionate declarations; Maitre Mennesson's office 
was not too arduous; Niguet had departed and a young man named 
Paillet, some six or seven years older than Alexandre, had succeeded 
him; Amedee kept Alexandre's nose to the grindstone of study; de 
Leuven came back and settled for a brief while in M. Deviolaine's town 
house; M. Arnault, the famous author of Germanicus and Marius a 
Minturnes came to visit de Leuven; Adolphe read his fables and elegies 
and the young Dumas listened open-mouthed; the sun shone and 
the rain fell and the days passed. Ambition grew under this regimen. 
Alexandre's days were divided into three portions: one devoted to 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 47 

his friendships, another to his love-making, and a third to his legal 
work. De Leuven finally went back to Paris with M. Arnault and 
Alexandre was desolate. But he still had his languages and they 
occupied much of his time. He still had Adele and that sweet 
struggle caused the days to pass as swiftly as a current flowing beneath 
a bridge. The period of boyhood was definitely left behind, and 
though he was awkward still, though the patent marks of a country 
upbringing were on him, he revealed a seriousness that promised a 
greater, if less happy, future than that of a lawyer's clerk in a small 
town. 

It was during this period, while he was studying Dante and Ariosto 
with Amedee, that Alexandre experienced his first vivid dramatic 
sensation. An old client of Maitre Mennesson left a hundred and 
fifty francs to be divided among the young men in the office, Alex- 
andre's share being thirty-seven francs and fifty centimes, more money 
than he had ever possessed in his life. Paillet, the new head clerk, 
proposed that the money should be clubbed and that all of them 
should travel to Soissons and sink this unbelievable sum in the delights 
of the seat of the sous-prefecture* The idea appealed; it smacked of 
a wild adventure; so one morning at the early hour of three-thirty 
Dumas, Ronsin (the second clerk), and Paillet took seats on the 
diligence to Paris, the coach rumbled through La Vertefeuille and 
at six o'clock the three young men found themselves in Soissons. 
They discovered that a company of pupils from the Conservatoire 
were giving a special performance of Ducis's version of Shakespeare's 
Hamlet that evening. Now Alexandre had never heard of Hamlet, 
he had never heard of Shakespeare; he had never heard of Ducis. It 
was with some misgivings that he read the word "tragedy" on the 
placards. His mother had striven to make him read the tragedies of 
Racine and Corneille but they had bored him. It was, therefore, 
with expectations of the worst that the young man seated himself in 
the pit that evening and prepared to sleep through the speeches of 
the tall, pale, sallow Cudot who was cast as Hamlet But something 
happened. Ducis's version could not entirely destroy the effect of 
Shakespeare's play, and Alexandre, who had expected interminable 
formal speeches and the grave squeak of buskins, witnessed a tragedy 



48 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

compact with inexplicable sensations, aimless longings, mysterious 
rays of light, and sinister prognostications. The ghost scene, Hamlet's 
struggle with his mother, the monologues, the gloomy questionings 
of death, all these things moved Alexandre tremendously. A door 
opened before him into a land which he had heretofore but vaguely 
suspected. Yet the version of Hamlet made by Ducis was, at best, 
but a foggy outline. Benjamin Robert Haydon, the unfortunate 
English artist, had seen this arrangement of Shakespeare's master- 
piece some years before at Versailles, and of it he had written: "At 
Versailles we saw Ducis's adaptation of Hamlet to the French stage. 
The innocence and weakness of Ophelia were lost, and Hamlet was 
a blubbering boy. But when Hamlet was talking to his mother, and 
fancied for a moment he saw his father's ghost, Talma was terrific; 
it really shook my orthodoxy. The ghost was not seen there was 
really a cause for this stupor and his talking as if he only saw what 
we did not, frightened us all. In the next scene Hamlet brings in 
an urn with his father's ashes this was thoroughly French; yet when 
he made his mother swear on the urn that she knew nothing of the 
murder and touch the ashes, there was an awful silence throughout 
the house. Ducis has entirely lost that feeling of 'grief which passeth 
show' his Hamlet's grief was all show." Alexandre, never having 
experienced the sublime thrill of the original Hamlet, was moved to 
an unlimited display of delight by the French version. Back in Villers- 
Cotterets he was like a youth demented. He went about in a semi- 
trance asking everybody, "Do you know Hamlet? Do you know 
Ducis ?" He even ordered the play from Paris and in three days had 
the part of Hamlet committed to memory. From this moment he 
suspected his vocation. Through the veils of his ignorance he sensed 
the possibilities of a romantic literature that was no longer formal. 

Within a few months Adolphe de Leuven returned from Paris. He 
\vas full of stories of the glamour of literary life in the capital. Like 
a good-natured but sly serpent he held forth the rosy apples of promise 
to that simple Adam of the country, Alexandre, and Alexandre, lulled 
into an ambitious daydream,, listened. Adolphe had been a guest in 
the house of Arnault. Adolphe had seen Talma, that Napoleon 
of tragedians, had been in his chambers, had conversed with him, 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 49 

had met the playwright Scribe there. He had heard Mademoiselle 
Duchesnois recite Marie Stuart. He was acquainted with M. de Jouy, 
who had finished his Sylla; with Lucien Arnault, who had begun 
his Regulus; with Pichat, who was composing his Brennus and think- 
ing out his Leonid as i with Soulie, who wrote poems for Le Mercurei 
ivith Rousseau, the author of a hundred and one vaudevilles^ with 
Ferdinand Langle, whose mistress was the little Fleuriet; with The- 
mlon, who had inscribed these words on the door of his study: 

Loin du sot, du fat et du traitre, 
lei ma constance attendra: 
Et I' amour qui viendra peut-etre, 
Et la mort qui du moins viendra! 

^his, then, was the world that serpent Adolphe showed Alexandre, 

world of music and light and poetry and fame, a world where 

eautiful actresses kissed their lovers in the coulisses, a world where 

oets met over the cafe tables and drank deeply and wrote furiously, 

world that was crowned with two flowers, the laurel and the im- 

lortelle. 

A week before Adolphe's return his restricted life in Villers- 
lotterets with the eventual possibility of a yearly salary of fifteen or 
ghteen hundred francs had not seemed too bleak; a week after 
dolphe's return everything was changed. Villers-Cotterets was a 
ige. Maitre Mennesson's office was a den. His own home was a 
Die. Under the kindly tuition of Amedee he began to translate 
urger's beautiful ballad, Lenore y into French verse. He failed with 
miserably, but Adolphe was by his side to suggest other things, 
ome, they would collaborate on a play. So the son of the baron 
id the son of the general sat down before a table, sharpened some 
lill pens, and set to work. Adolphe had read many books, had been 
ell educated, had witnessed the performances of dozens of plays, 
id discussed technique with successful authors. Alexandre had 
:ver opened a volume of Scott or Cooper; he was ignorant of the 
Lines of Goethe and Schiller and Uhland and Andre Chenier; the 
ily decent performance of a play he had ever witnessed had been 
Paris when he was three years old; he had read the worst oJP 



5 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Voltaire, the naughty books of Pigault-Lebrun, and the poetry of 
Demoustier; he had a secondhand acquaintance with Shakespeare 
through Ducis's variation of Hamlet. So this ill-matched couple sat 
down and turned out a one-act vaudeville called Le Major de Stras- 
bourg. They followed this up with a second vaudeville stolen from 
M. Bouilly's Contes h ma flic, which they called Le diner d'amis. 
The vats of inspiration still filled to overflowing, they turned to 
Florian's Gonsalve de Cordoue and calmly borrowed enough of it 
to make a stilted drama entitled Les Abenctrages. The fury with 
which young men can write is miraculous. The results of this fury 
are often beyond description. They are too terrible for words. These 
labors filled the greater part of a year, from 1820 to 1821, and Adolphe 
departed for Paris, where his father had taken up residence, with his 
portmanteau bulging with script, and Alexandre waited impatiently 
summons to the premiere of his first play. A career strewn with roses 
and bank notes loomed in the immediate future. 

During this time a tragedy, great at the time but, as recalled through 
the mists of the years, no more than the bitter-sweet taste of the first 
bite into the ruddy apple of disillusionment, befell Alexandre. The 
blonde Adele, with whom his liaison had lasted three years, grew 
meditative. There had been many secret trysts in her little room, 
trysts to which Alexandre had crept across back fields, leaping fences 
in the best romantic manner. To excuse this liaison, to apologize for 
the irregularity of this affair, is unnecessary. It existed and that is 
all that can be said about it. These passionate imbroglios exist in all 
small towns, and the victims are generally the more sensitive inhab- 
itants. Alexandre loved Adele with all the first fervency of youth, 
and she returned his passion, but with a trembling doubt sometimes 
casting a cloud upon it. It is possible that she possessed a faculty 
which Alexandre never possessed, that of rationalizing her love affairs. 
After all, she was twenty years old and Alexandre was but nineteen. 
She had her future to think of and Alexandre compromised that 
future. He, at nineteen, had but barely emerged from the thoughtless 
insouciance of boyhood; she, at twenty, had been a woman for five 
years. The future! That blind mysterious figure stood between her 
and the tall, fair-haired boy. It was with a vague relief, therefore, 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 51 

that she saw Alexandra depart on a two months* visit to his brother- 
in-law, Victor Letellier for Aimee-Alexandrine had taken a hus- 
band at Dreux. She wept, for she understood that a decision must 
be made during these eight weeks. Alexandre shed a few tears, for 
he saw the first passionate revelation of his youth fading into Time. 
Both these young people mingled their tears; they realized they were 
about to have memories. 

Alexandre hunted in the department of Eure-et-Loire for eight 
weeks, and Adele's letters dwindled and ceased. A blank wall of 
silence rose between them. When the disconsolate Nimrod who had 
killed the legendary three-legged hare of Dreux returned to Villers- 
Cotterets in September he was greeted by a startling question. "Do 
you know that Adele Dalvin is going to be married?" "It is quite 
likely," he replied. By piecing together stray bits of information he 
found that she was going to marry a man twice her age who had 
returned from Spain with a small fortune. Adele was prudent He 
tried to see her, running again across deserted fields at midnight and 
climbing high fences, but her room was empty and dark. She had 
hidden herself away from him. During the fifteen days that elapsed 
before the wedding ceremony Alexandre kept to his house, strange, 
silent, moody, devoured by a first acute anguish. The day of the 
wedding he fled to the woods, walking blindly through the green 
trees and placing his lime twigs with a despairing automatic gesture. 
The caught bird does not fly again. The forsaken lover had lost his 
first wings. He was as young as this, as naive, as sure of the lasting 
misery of his grief as all young men are. In the twilight, the day's 
end when the blackbird whistles and the first shadows rise about die 
boles of the trees, he sat in the dim hunter's hut and sliced his loaf 
of dark bread and poured his ruby-red wine. He raised his head and 
listened. The high cry of a violin pierced his gloom, and following 
that shrill sound came mingled voices of young men and women in 
laughter. He thrust his head out of the hut, peered through the trees, 
and saw some distance from him young girls in white dresses, youths 
in bright blue coats, large bouquets and streaming ribbons. And 
leading them all ... He withdrew his head with a despairing cry. 
She had even followed him into the forest. He did not stop to realize 
that the wedding party was cutting home by a short way through the 



5 2 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

wood from Adele's aunt's house at Haramount. What he had fled from 
had come to find him out. He peered out again, mercifully screened 
by the trees, and saw her pass in her white veil and bearing her 
bouquet of orange blossoms. The violin died in the distance and the 
soft dark came down over the tall brooding trees, the sleeping birds, 
the still pools. Alexandre sat in the hunter's hut, his chin on his hand, 
his elbow on his knee, and winked back the tears. His first dream 
had exploded like a bubble; his first illusion had been shattered. 

Letters began to come from Adolphe. Mother Colombe tottered to 
the door of the house and handed Alexandre the first epistle with the 
magic postmark of Paris. He tore it open with trembling hands. The 
directors of the theaters and Adolphe could not fathom why were 
not making any particular fuss over the three collaborations. How- 
ever, it was not yet time to despair. The trio of masterpieces would 
have their hearings yet. The second letter was a month in coming. 
Le diner d'amis, borrowed from Bouilly, did not have sufficient plot; 
Le Major de Strasbourg was too much like Le soldat laboureur, 
which had just been played at the Varietes; Les Abencerages was 
quite hopeless because every boulevard theater for the past twenty 
years had received a play on that hackneyed subject. The Gymnase, 
the Varietes, the Porte-Saint-Martin, the Ambigu-Comique, the 
Gaiete, all the large theaters had been approached and all of them 
had curtly refused the three scripts. Where were all those roses and 
bank notes now? Where were the laurels and the immortelles? 
Alexandre shed as bitter a tear as Boabdil did over Granada and 
returned gloomily to work, 

The woes of youth do not last long, and Alexandre was well on the 
road to recovery both from Adele Dalvin and the fate of his first 
three plays when he left Maitre Mennesson's office and went into 
residence as second or third clerk with M. Lefevre, a lawyer of Crespy. 
Crespy was three and a half leagues from Villers-Cotterets, and now 
for die first time Alexandre found himself pretty much on his own, 
although on Saturdays he could if he wished return home for the 
week-end. M. Lefevre was a good-looking man of thirty-five whose 
physique had been weakened by the pleasures, both permissible and 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 53 

forbidden, of Paris, to which city he went eight or ten times a year, 
driving there in a private conveyance and with a postilion who wore 
a powdered wig, a blue jacket with red lapels and silver buttons, and 
glittering boots. The society of Crespy was agreeable. Victor Letel- 
lier's mother lived there and proved an open sesame to Alexandre. 
Also there was a young lady with bright eyes named Athenais. Alex- 
andre discovered that he was not going to have such a bad time after 
all. By the time he had been there three months he had forgotten 
all his griefs, written a bad imitation of the Lettres a mitie by 
Demoustier, sent it to Adolphe who promptly lost it, and basked as 
often as he could in the bright glances of Athenais* 

His old friend, Paillet, called on him one day and as they were 
wandering about the ramparts of the ancient twelfth century tower 
of Vez, Alexandre was seized with a daring thought. He struck his 
forehead with a determined fist and exclaimed, "Let us go and spend 
three days in Paris!" Paillet looked at the sun and then at Alexandra's 
forehead apprehensively; Alexandre seemed sane enough; it could not 
be a stroke, then. "What about the office?" inquired the older man. 
Alexandre said that M. Lefevre was leaving on one of his trips on the 
morrow, that he always stayed away two or three days, and that they 
could go and return in that time. "Money?" said the practical Paillet. 
He had twenty-eight francs. Alexandre had seven. But Alexandre 
had an idea as well. They would take Paillet's horse and their guns, 
one would walk and hunt while the other rode, they would live on 
the game, the poacher apprehended by a keeper would leap on the 
horse and dash away, and they would pay their reckoning in Paris 
with the partridges and quail they brought with them. Paillet suc- 
cumbed. He desired to observe the pleasures of Paris. As for Alex- 
andre, he wanted to see Adolphe and inquire about the three plays. 
That night they started. 

Two days later, Alexandre on foot and Paillet on horseback, they 
arrived in the courtyard of the Hotel des Vieux-Augustins in the rue 
des Vieux-Augustins, Paris, laden with four hares, a dozen partridges, 
and two quail. Alexandre had not been in Paris since the momentous 
year 1814, when he had seen the King of Rome lifted above the heads 
of the National Guard. It was, therefore, like an entrance into dream- 
land. The serried ranks of houses, the animation of the streets., the 



54 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

swinging oil lamps, the late cabriolets (for it was night when he 
arrived), the boys running with flaring torches, the gigantic suspira- 
tion of a great city breathing all about him, the noise, and the fever 
of expectation kept him from sleeping. He tossed about all that night 
in the bed for which he had paid his partridges. 

Early in the morning the friends parted, Paillet on business of his 
own, and Alexandre to Adolphe de Leuven's house in the rue Pigale. 
Passing by the Theatre-Frangais he noticed that M. de Jouy's Sylla 
was to be played that evening with Talma in the title role and he 
determined to go. Rousing Adolphe from his bed (for like most of the 
young gentlemen in Paris Adolphe loved to sleep late in the morning), 
Alexandre acquainted his friend with his quivering desire to see 
Talma. Nothing was easier. Adolphe had an entree to the famous 
actor's house and off they proceeded to the rue de la Tour-des-Dames 
where, next to the houses of Mademoiselle Mars and Mademoiselle 
Duchesnois, Talma lived. He was washing his chest when the young 
men entered, and, after briefly acknowledging the son of General 
Dumas, he hastily wrote out an order for two seats and then gra- 
ciously rid himself of his early visitors. 

Alexandre, after lunching with de Leuven and arranging to meet 
him at seven o'clock that evening at the Cafe du Roi, corner of the 
rue de Richelieu and the rue Saint Honore, became the country tourist. 
He went through the Tuileries by the gate of the rue de la Paix; 
he passed under the Arch; he wandered up and down the quais; he 
tramped through the Jardin des Plantes; he exhausted the Musce; 
he examined Notre Dame inside and out; he forced his way through 
the gate of the Luxembourg; he peeped in windows and stared after 
pedestrians; he listened open-mouthed to street hawkers and paused 
before the platforms of the saltimbanques; he watched the boats glide 
down the yellow Seine; he circled the Palais-Royal. The color, the 
medley, the movement, the unending landmarks and historical monu- 
ments enchanted him. At six o'clock he was back in the Hotel des 
Vieux-Augustins dining with Paillet on a filet with olives and roast 
beef. At seven o'clock he was seated in the Cafe du Roi waiting for 
Adolphe. Paillet had disappeared, possibly after some of the plump 
young women who spotted the moving horde of people. 

Dumas was gazing about him when he was approached by a seedy 




MADEMOISELLE MARS 

Her "temperamental upsets" continually 
disturbed Dumas 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 55 

individual in a shiny coat and still more shiny trousers. The young 
man stared at him and gasped. Auguste Lafarge! But where were the 
box coat with the thirty-six bands, the boots a la hussarde and that 
gargantuan watch chain that had rattled so musically? Auguste had 
fallen upon evil times. The cynical bitterness of the literary failure 
filled his soul and Alexandre sat and listened to malicious attacks on 
Talma, on Jouy, on Theaulon, on all the successful figures of the day, 
Over a small brandy Lafarge waxed more and more scornful and 
bitter. It is the way with some men who fall from fortune's favor. 
They cannot forgive those who dine better than they do. Alexandre 
was being shown another side to literary life in the capital, but as yet 
he could not comprehend it. Jealousies, meannesses, the machinations 
of cliques, the intrigues of small minds against greater, these things 
were mysteries to him. Adolphe rescued him and bore him away to 
the Theatre-Frangais. 

When Alexandre saw Talma appear upon the stage, clad in the 
robes of Sylla, a cry of amazement burst from him. This was not the 
short man who had been washing his chest that morning, but the 
noblest Roman of them all. He was the Napoleon of the stage. This 
mime with his lightning glance, his calm and marblelike countenance, 
his magnificent simplicity, his heartbreaking melancholy, was not even 
of the same world as that pathetic sallow Cudot who had played 
Hamlet in Soissons. Dumas was stunned, dazzled, fascinated. When 
Adolphe suggested that they go to Talma's dressing room after the 
fall of the curtain the young man accepted with alacrity. They passed 
through the murky back corridors of the Theatre-Franks and pushed 
their way into the crowded dressing room. Talma, still in his white 
robes, was removing the crown from his head. About him clustered 
a group of the playwrights of the day: Casimir Delavigne, who had 
just put the finishing touches to L'ficole des mcillards, Lucien 
Arnault, whose Regulus had made a fair sensation, Soumet, whose 
Saul had been one of the great successes of the Theatre-Frangais, 
Nepomucene Lemercier, that paralyzed brute of uneven talents that 
rose to Agamemnon and dipped to Cahin-Caha, Delrieu, who had 
been at work on his Artaxcrcc since 1809, Viennet, whose tragedies 
were better on paper than on the stage, and M. de Jouy, the hero of 
the hour, the author of Sylla. The amazed young man from Villers- 



56 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Cotterets stopped short just within the door. He listened to the names 

Adolphe pronounced and he trembled. He blushed vividly whenever 

one of these men, who seemed like Titans to him, turned an inquiring 

glance in his direction. 
Presently Talma turned and observed the two young men hovering 

in the doorway. He beckoned and Alexandre took two steps toward 

him. They conversed. 

"Well, Monsieur le Poete" Talma said, "you are satisfied?" 
The group of playwrights stared at the country boy in the absurdly 

long coat. Alexandre stammered: 

"More than that . . . monsieur ... I am wonderstruck. ..." 
"You must see me again. You must ask for more seats." 
Alexandre shook his head. He explained that he was returning 

home on the morrow. 

"That is a pity," said Talma. "You might have seen me as Regulus." 
He smiled at Lucien Arnault. 
"Impossible," replied the young man, "I must return to the prov- 



inces." 



At that moment he would have enjoyed seeing the provinces in 
their last conflagration. 

"What do you do in the . . . provinces ?" 

The young man hung his head. He stuttered: 

"A lawyer's clerk. ..." 

"Come, come," said Talma briskly. "You must not despair because 
of that. Corneille was clerk to a procurator!" He turned to the group 
of playwrights. "Gentlemen," he announced with a gesture, "allow 
me to introduce a future Corneille." The playwrights smiled. Talma 
was superb when he was teasing young men. Alexandre blushed to 
his eyes. He held out his arm and said: 

"Lay your hand on my forehead, Monsieur; it will bring me luck." 
1 The quizzical smile died from Talma's face as he placed a white 
liand on Alexandre's forehead. The actor assumed the place of the 
man. He declaimed: 

j "There so be it. Alexandre Dumas, I baptize thee poet in the 
4ame of Shakespeare, Corneille, and of Schiller. . . . Return to the 
provinces, return to your office; if you really have a vocation, the 
angel of poetry will know where to find you wherever you are and 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 57 

will carry you off by the hair of your head like the prophet Habakkuk 
and will take you where Fate determines." 

A soft murmur of laughter rose from the assembled playwrights 
as Alexandre walked blindly from the dressing room. Following 
Adolphe, he proceeded down the narrow twisting staircase, through 
the black corridor, along the galcrie de Nemours, and so out on the 
Place du Palais Royal. The dark bulk of the offices of Monsieur le 
Due d'Orleans loomed against the deep blue of the midnight sky. A 
few belated pedestrians clattered over the cobbles, and a ragged boy 
bearing a torch hurried toward the rue de Richelieu. Adolphe bade 
farewell to Alexandre. "There," he said, "y ou know your way the 
rue Croix-des-Petits Champs, the rue Coquilliere, the rue des Vieux- 
Augustins. Good-night." He disappeared in the darkness on his way 
to the rue Pigale. Alexandre did not know his way. Therefore, fearful 
stories of ferocious footpads flooding his mind, he hastily climbed into 
the first cab that came along and ordered the cocker to drive to the 
Hotel des Vieux-Augustins. That individual stared through his whisk- 
ers at him, lashed at his bony horse, and twenty seconds later drew 
up before the little hotel. A crestfallen young man emerged, paid the 
exorbitant amount of fifty sous for a ride as brief as a wink of the 
eye, and climbed to his room. Paillet, who had been to the opera, 
was seated before the bed regarding a few francs with a woeful eye. 
They possessed a dozen francs between them. It was agreed to start 
for Crespy at seven o'clock in the morning. The sun was shining 
when the two young men departed from the Hotel des Vieux-Augus- 
tins. The next day they reached Crespy. M. Lefevre had returned 
before them. That evening after dinner he drew Alexandre aside and 
explained that a machine may work properly only when all its wheels 
are going. Dumas took the hint, resigned from his clerkship, accepted 
M. Lefevre as a friend, and announced that his future was in Paris. 

One morning Madame Dumas came into her son's small bed cham- 
ber with her eyes full of tears. She sat down beside him, and putting 
her arms about the tall youth who was sitting up in bed in some 
perplexity, said: "I have just sold everything to pay off our debts." 
These debts, which had mounted from month to month and from 
year to year, swallowed up the thirty roods of land left by General 



58 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Dumas, the house that M. Harlay had at last left, and the few valuable 
objects which had decorated the humble dwelling in the rue de 
Lormet. All that was left were a portfolio of drawings by Giam- 
battista Piranesi, a trunk crammed with letters and documents, and 
two hundred and fifty-three francs in cash. Alexandre had been out 
of employment for nearly four months. He was over twenty now and 
he realized how disgraceful this was. It was time for him to become 
a man. 

He kissed his mother and said: "Give me the fifty-three francs. I 
will go to Paris with them, and, I promise you, I will come back with 
good news." 

The vista of Paris had never been absent from his mind since he 
had made the momentous trip with Paillet. It had hung on the 
horizon, a luminous and magical city, a land of promise where true 
desert was meted its rich reward, a sort of Bagdad where surprising 
jewels lay concealed in the mud of the narrow streets. Adolphe was 
there. He was slaving away at plays although he had had nothing 
produced as yet. Still he had reached the stage where he could procure 
readings before theater directors. Talma was there and Talma had 
baptized him a poet. All the playwrights in the world were there. 
The ruins of the Empire were there. The Empire! With this thought 
in his mind Alexandre hurried to the trunk of documents left by his 
father, and, drawing old yellowed letters and army orders from their 
envelopes, pored over them. There was aid here, unmistakable aid. 
Here was a letter from the Due de Bellune, thanking General Dumas 
for help in conciliating Napoleon. The Due de Bellune was Minister 
for War now under Louis XVIII. Here was a letter from General 
Sebastiani and here was another from Marechal Jourdan. Here was 
a note from Kellermann and another from Bernadotte. Bernadotte 
was King of Sweden. There was no doubt in Alexandre's mind that 
these men would leap at the opportunity to help the son of General 
Dumas. All he need do would be to present these letters recalling old 
days on the battlefields of Italy, of the Alps, and of Egypt, and these 
men, now high in power and mighty in influence, would immediately 
bestir themselves. That much was settled, then. All that remained 
was to raise enough money to carry him to Paris and provide for him 
while these mar&haux and dues and generals were placing him. Alex- 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 59 

andre did not know what he wanted to do. He did not care. What- 
ever he did, a position in the Department of War, perhaps, would be 
simply a stepping-stone to that time when his plays for he meant to 
write many of them would be produced at the Theatre-Franf ais and 
at the Odeon. He selected a group of letters and put them away in 
his wallet. 

Madame Dumas, reconciling herself to the departure of her son, 
gave him the fifty-three francs. Things could not be worse than they 
were and any straw in the wind was something to grasp at. As she 
weighed out small papers of tobacco in her humble bureau de tabac 
she restrained the tears and resolutely ignored the remarks about her 
son, remarks freely vouchsafed by the bustling gossips of the town. 
They told her the boy was a good-for-nothing, that at twenty years 
of age he could do nothing but shoot a gun and trap birds, that he 
had deliberately tricked himself out of a good position with M. Le- 
fevre, that his head was turned at the silly sights of Paris, that his 
ambition to write was a ridiculous presumption in an uneducated 
country boy. Did he think he was another Demoustier ? The gossips 
laughed shrilly and went on their way bobbing their heads. Widow 
Dumas's son had a mighty tall feather in his ragged cap. He wanted 
to write tragedies, did he? It would be better for him if he settled 
down to raising cabbages. It was the Bonapartist blood, no doubt. All 
of that tribe was like the Corsican who thought he was an Emperor. 
They had ideas above their station. 

Alexandre proceeded with his preparations. He sold the portfolio 
of Piranesi drawings for fifty francs. So much more was added to the 
small hoard he was putting away in the worn wallet with the yel- 
lowed letters. He went about bidding farewell to his friends, and most 
of them laughed in his face. One stroke of unexpected luck befell 
him. Alexandre was an excellent billiard player, another sign of a 
misspent life according to the gossips. So was Carrier. Playing one 
evening for small glasses of absinthe, Alexandre, who drank nothing 
at all, won no less than six hundred glasses. Poor old Carrier was 
distrait. How could a youth who did not drink make away with six; 
hundred glasses of the most burning liquor in France? Alexandre' 
solved this problem by converting his winnings into sous, eighteen, 
hundred of them, and then, to the agreement and relief of Carrier 



60 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

who ran the posting station, changed this amount into places on the 
diligence to Paris. Thus he had his passage free, both going to and 
coming from Paris. 

The day was now drawing near when he was to make his departure 
and test the fickleness of fortune. He continued to go about bidding 
farewell to his old friends. He went to the good Abbe Gregoire and 
instead of being lectured on religious precepts, lectured himself. He 
went to Maitre Mennesson who offered him M. Laffitte, the Parisian 
banker, as an example. Alexandre did not think so much of M. 
Laffitte in spite of all his stocks and bars of bullion, but he said noth- 
ing. Maitre Mennesson was more of a misanthrope than ever. He 
had been married recently. Then Alexandre went to M. Danre at 
Vouty. M. Danre had been an old friend and hunting companion 
of General Dumas. He had dabbled in local politics, and when Gen- 
eral Foy's name had been put forward on the lists for election, M. 
Danre had supported him and through his influence had seen him 
elected. M. Danre's encouragement was all that the disconsolate young 
man needed. The barbs of his younger friends and the ominous 
prophecies of the gossips had somewhat discomposed Alexandre. M. 
Danre, with the gusto of an old man who loves to see youth stepping 
forth into adventure, went to Madame Dumas and reassured her about 
her son. Adopting the flowery eloquence of an ancient French gentle- 
man he informed her that Alexandre would take his place in that 
class of men who were styled rulers. Madame Dumas wanted to laugh 
and then she decided to cry. M. Danre went even further. He gave 
Alexandre a letter of introduction to General Foy and the young man 
carefully placed it in his wallet. He doubted that he should ever have 
to use it but it might be just as well to keep it. 

The day of departure came. Alexandra's few garments were placed 
in his cheap portmanteau. He shook hands again with his neighbors. 
A last visit was paid to the cemetery where the body of General 
Dumas lay crumbling in the earth. Madame Darcourt, gazing from 
her window, saw the tall form of the young man in his ill-fitting long 
coat. His hair needed a barber's attention. Beside him was the short 
woman in black to whom fortune had been so malign. Mother and 
son, walking slowly, loitering, gazing sadly about them, made their 
way to the Hotel de la Boule d'Or where the diligence was to pick 



THE IDYL OF VILLERS-COTTERETS 61 

up Alexandre. At half past nine they heard the sound of wheels and 
knew that they had but half an hour longer. They retired to a small 
room in the hotel and simultaneously burst into tears. There had been 
no parting like this for Madame Dumas since the body of the General 
had been borne down the steps of the Hotel de 1'fipee and carried 
away to the still hillside. She wept for misery and doubt. Her son 
wept for hope. He had the world before him; he was sanguine; he 
was filled with the dreams of youth. Madame Dumas's world was 
behind her, and as she now lived in her son, her life was being taken 
from her. The house in the rue de Lormet would be very empty. 
The horn sounded from the diligence, and Alexandre, followed more 
slowly by his mother, hurried down to the heavy vehicle. He turned 
and kissed his mother, and she clung to him for a moment. Then he 
mounted and stowed away his portmanteau. There was the heavy 
crack of a whip like a pistol shot, the clatter of hoofs, and the diligence 
rumbled off into the darkness. Alexandre gazed back as long as he 
could at the solitary person who was waving farewell to him. 



CHAPTER THREE 

THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 



IT was five o'clock in the morning when Dumas descended from the 
Messageries dc l^clair diligence before number nine, rue de Bouloy, 
Paris. Although the day was clear it was a typical Bourbon Sunday, 
with all the shops fast-shuttered and the narrow streets deserted. The 
peculiar smugness of the eighteenth Louis permeated the capital. 
Dumas inquired his way and trudged the short distance to the Hotel 
des Vieux-Augustins, that small hostelry where with Paillet he had 
put up for a day four months before, and paid for his keep with hares 
and partridges. The proprietor was still abed but an early-rising 
waiter recognized Dumas and conducted him to the same room he 
had occupied on his previous visit. It would have been difficult not to 
remember the young man, for he was a quaint enough figure. There 
had been no revolution of fashion in Villers-Cotterets, but there most 
assuredly had been one in the Paris of 1823. Therefore the spectacle 
of a gaping young man with long, frizzy hair and an outmoded coat 
that reached to his skinny ankles must have titillated the few Parisians 
who ventured abroad on this quiet Sunday morning. Dumas was the 
country bumpkin to perfection, enthusiastic but unbelievably naive. 
On this first day he was the prototype of that Ange Pitou whom he 
was to create years later. There was no Bastille for him to destroy, but 
there was a city to conquer. He did not carry a pike. In place of this 
he possessed a handful of letters to the ancient military friends of his 
dead father and a bubbling optimism that betrayed his ignorance of 
the difficulty of careers. 

No sooner had Dumas installed himself in his little room than 
drowsiness overtook him, and warning the boy to arouse him at nine 

62 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 63 

o'clock he tried to compose himself for sleep. But just as excitement 
had kept him awake in the smelly interior of the diligence, so now did 
it stimulate him to wide-eyed dreams of the future. How could he 
sleep with his promised land of Paris all about him? Though the 
streets were quiet and the yellow and brown fronts of the houses 
stolid with their closed shutters he could nevertheless experience that 
august agitation which is always the atmosphere of Paris. The Seine 
flowed silently enough; the Tuileries dozed in the early sun and a 
stout king snored within; the Institute caught the morning light; 
Henri Quatre dreamt on his motionless horse; the bridges arched 
like frozen visions over the ocher rivef ; Notre Dame de Paris sat like 
the mother of Time on her island and waited. But threading the air 
was the restlessness that is always in the heart of Paris, that restless- 
ness which is like a million hands grasping for flags, for drums, for 
pikes, for the square cobble-stones of demolished barricades, above all 
for the laurel and the immortelle. So when the landlord of the Hotel 
des Vieux-Augustins poked his head inside Dumas's door he found 
the young man striding up and down, eager to set forth and find 
Adolphe de Leuven and announce to him that at last he had come to 
Paris to stay. 

The sportsman's instinct was strong in Dumas had he not hunted 
through the trackless woods about Villers-Cotterets ? so it was a 
fairly easy matter to wind his way across the river, through the rue 
du Mont-Blanc, and finally to fourteen, rue Pigale, where the de 
Leuvens lived. The old nobleman was walking in his garden, capri- 
ciously feeding sugar to his roses. He welcomed Dumas with his 
usual serenity, learned that the young man had come to conquer Paris, 
smiled inwardly, and then graciously offered a garret in the top of 
his house as a brooding place for the Muse. "Go and arrange it with 
Adolphe," he said, and turned back to his roses. He had seen too 
much of life to be surprised at anything. Adolphe was still in bed but 
the impetuous Dumas awoke him and forgave him his sluggishness 
when the young Parisian explained that he had been working late the 
night before on a little drama called Pauvre Fille. The two friends 
had much to say to one another, Dumas described the letters o intro- 
duction he carried, particularly one to the Due de Bellune who was 
Minister of War. He even called for pen and ink and dashed off an 



64 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

epistle requesting an interview with the due. Then, having settled his 
future to his own satisfaction, he turned to eager converse on litera- 
ture. Who was the playwright of the day? What poetry was being 
produced? What . . . But Adolphe was dubious. He pointed out 
that it might be as well to have other strings to one's bow than the 
problematical favor of the Due de Bellune who, after all ... "Ah!" 
exclaimed Dumas, "if he fails me I still have Marechal Jourdan and 
General Sebastiani." Adolphe shook his head but said nothing more. 
As for Dumas, his sanguinity was but slightly troubled. Had not these 
men fought side by side with his father in the campaigns of the First 
Republic? Would they slight the son of the Horatius Codes of the 
Tyrol ? There could be no doubt about it. Still ... It would be as 
well, perhaps, to call on the other marechaux while awaiting an answer 
from the Due de Bellune. So the next morning Dumas, frizzy hair 
straggling under his hat and long coat impeding his stride, announced 
himself at the door of Marechal Jourdan. 

The name Alexandre Dumas proved to be an Open Sesame. But 
when the grizzled Marechal strode into the room and saw the country 
youth before him his face changed abruptly. He looked bewildered, 
then amazed, then slightly irritated. He was a busy man and . . . 
Undoubtedly he had expected to see that dark giant who had been 
dubbed "Monsieur de I'Humanite" by an enraged revolutionary mob. 
He had forgotten that General Dumas had died in poverty years 
before. He had never heard that General Dumas had a son. In fact, 
he doubted it. He ... Dumas attempted to establish his identity in 
vain. The Marechal urged him toward the door. It might be so, but 
. . . Ten minutes after he had entered like a young lion Alexandre 
found himself in the street, a pained and bewildered lamb. 

It was a sad experience for Dumas. As he walked from the Fau- 
bourg St. Germain, where Marechal Jourdan lived, to the Faubourg 
Saint-Honbre, where General Sebastiani lived, depressing thoughts 
crept into his mind. No wonder Adolphe had shaken his head skepti- 
cally. Welt, he would see. There was nothing to do but go doggedly 
through his list of introductions. At General Sebastiani's house the 
name Alexandre Dumas again proved to be a magic key. At least that 
had not been forgotten. Sebastiani was in his study dictating to four 
secretaries. They sat ia the four corners of the room and as the 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 65 

General passed each one of them in turn the secretary would offer a 
gold snuffbox from which Sebastiani would extract a voluptuous sniff 
of the Spanish powder. Four secretaries, four snuffboxes, and one 
General. It was an excellent arrangement. Dumas stood in the door- 
way and smiled expectantly. A few moments later he was once more 
in the street. He was on his way back to his rabbit-hole in the Hotel 
des Vieux-Augustins with absolutely nothing accomplished except the 
eradication of two names from his list of potential patrons. Truly, 
Adolphe ... At the hotel there was no message from the Due de 
Bellune. Truly, truly, Adolphe . . , Dumas sat before the Almanack 
des 25,000 adresses and idly thumbed it. Twenty-five thousand ad- 
dresses and no place to go. Twenty-five . . . But, wait! Under his 
finger he saw a name that stirred memories. What . . . Verdier . . . 
ah! That general who had served in Egypt under his father. A close 
comrade! An old brother-in-arms! Ten minutes later Dumas was 
standing before number six. Faubourg Montmartre. 

The sullen concierge had said, "Fourth floor, small door to the 
left." That was a peculiar habitation for a Republican General. 
Marechal Jourdan and General Sebastiani had great houses. General 
Sebastiani had four secretaries and four gold snuffboxes. But neither 
one of them had any memory at all. Dumas climbed the four flights, 
not falling over his long coat more than three times on the way. There 
was a modest green string before the small door to the left and he 
pulled it. A moment later the door swung open and a man of about 
sixty wearing a cap edged with astrakhan, a green-braided jacket and 
trousers of white calfskin, stood framed in the doorway. In his hand 
was a palette of paints and a brush. This man appeared to be an artist 
and yet the faint aura of long vanished gunpowder hung about him. 
Dumas was dubious. 

"Have I made some mistake?" he asked, "I ..." 

"What do you desire, Monsieur?" countered the man in the astra- 
khan cap. 

"To pay my respects to General Verdier." 

Dumas was ushered through a small hall into a study. There he 
asked if he might see the general. The man in the astrakhan cap 
turned around in surprise. 
. "What general?" 



66 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

"General Verdier." 

"I am he." 

Dumas stared in amazement and Verdier began to laugh. How 
many gold snuffboxes was it Sebastiani had? Or were they gold 
secretaries? Dumas was becoming mixed in his mind. Truly, this 
Paris was full of unaccountable things. He announced himself to 
General Verdier as "the son of your old comrade-in-arms in Egypt, 
General Dumas." Verdier looked at him closely and then tears welled 
into his eyes. He held out his hand and said, "By the powers, so you 
are!" Ah, this was different. Dumas wanted to kiss the first kindly 
hand that had been stretched out to him. 

But the remainder of the interview was sad enough. Verdier had 
been pensioned off for some imaginary conspiracy and he was abso- 
lutely without power in any place. He passed his days painting in his 
little studio and waiting for the end of time. This man had com- 
manded regiments under the Egyptian suns. He had been one of 
those upon whom forty centuries had gazed down. He had, without 
knowing it, solved the riddle of the Sphinx. 

"I can give you lessons in painting," he said. Dumas did not desire 
to be an artist. Verdier questioned the youth about his prospects and 
Dumas told him about his visits to Marechal Jourdan and General 
Sebastiani. Then there was the as yet unanswered letter to the Due 
de Bellune. But one hope remained. Dumas had a letter to General 
Foy. Perhaps that . . . Hope dies hard in a young man. Verdier 
shrugged his shoulders. He advised the youth to present himself early 
on the morrow morning at General Foy's house. The General, he 
was sure, would receive him kindly. If not for his own sake at least 
for the sake of his father. Not all of those veterans who had made 
possible the victories of General Bonaparte had forgotten the name of 
Dumas. "And," added Verdier, "will you dine with me? We will 
talk about Egypt. It was hot there." Dumas promised to return at 
six, and he leaped down the four flights of stairs with a lighter heart 
than he had ascended. As for Verdier he returned to the head of a 
Cossack he was painting. 

Well, this was different. If it did not remove obstacles at least it 
showed that men varied* Dumas began to see that the world was a 
multifarious place, that memories were both short and long, that grati* 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 67 

tudes and obligations were at best empty words and that the kindly 
world of boyish illusions wherein he had lived at Villers-Cotterets was 
not at all the same world that dominated the Paris of His Majesty 
King Louis XVIIL The unknown youth may knock at the thresholds 
of great doors behind which there is plenty, but he is more apt to be 
given a crust when he knocks at the threshold of a garret. Adolphe, 
when he heard of the day's adventures, shook his head. "If your story 
finishes as it has begun," he said, "y ou Wl ^ do more than write a 
comic opera. You will write a comedy." He then gave the young man 
two seats for that evening's performance of Regulus at the Theatre- 
Fran$ais and went his own way to work on his never-to-be-produced 
Pauvre Fille. Poor de Leuven. He who had started so much better 
equipped than Dumas was to end so far below him, never hitting the 
universal appeal which was to be a part of the titanic strength of the 
author of Monte Cristo and Les Trois Mousquetaires. De Leuven's 
apex was to be Le Postilion de Longjumeau and Vert-Vert, and who 
is there who remembers those gentle comedies ? Only the pertinacious 
historians of the French stage. 

Dumas dined with Verdier (it was a dinner with extras at the 
Palais-Royal and it cost six francs) and then they repaired to the 
Theatre-Frangais to see Talma in Regulus. The mind of the young 
man naturally turned back to that performance of Sylla and the 
blessing he had received in Talma's dressing room. Talma was superb 
in certain scenes of this rather dull play by Lucien Arnault, and 
Dumas, not too much the critic, was properly thrilled. When he 
parted company with General Verdier at the corner of the rue Coquil- 
Here he was filled again with projects for his own future. Verdier 
watching the long frizzy hair and absurd coat disappearing around 
the corner must have smiled. Youth is an excellent anesthetic for 
disappointments, but when one has been baked under Egyptian suns 
and frozen in the passes of the Alps there is no youth left. There is 
nothing to do then but to pass the time by painting pictures of Cos- 
sacks in fourth-floor garrets. 

At ten o'clock in the morning Dumas presented himself at the door 
of General Foy's house in the rue du Mont-Blanc. Foy was discovered 
amidst a clutter of maps, speeches, proofs, documents and open books. 



68 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

He was at work on his Histoirc dc la Pcninsule. When Dumas entered 
he was writing at a table that could be lifted or lowered as the General 
required. He was a short, thin man of fifty, with scanty grey hair, a 
projecting forehead, a straight nose, and a decidedly bilious com- 
plexion. 

"Are you the son of that General Dumas who commanded the 
Army of the Alps?" he inquired. 

Dumas admitted it. He then presented his letter of introduction 
from Monsieur Danre. Foy read it and announced that the worthy 
Danre had recommended the youth strongly. Dumas, trembling with 
uncertainty, answered the abrupt questions of the General as concisely 
as he could. This was his last hope, and if it failed it meant that he 
must creep back to Villers-Cotterets where his poverty-stricken mother 
waited eagerly for news of a future which might, perhaps, be a little 
brighter than the past years. He could not go back. He could not go 
back. That was all there was to it. The General asked him if he 
knew mathematics. 

"No, General." 

Algebra? Geometry? Physics? 

Perspiration ran down Dumas's face. It was "No, General," to each 
query. He had not realized what an ignorant fellow he was. 

The General frowned. 

Law? Latin? Bookkeeping? 

Dumas was in agony, the agony of his own ignorance, as he shook 
his head at the mention of each subject. General Foy was visibly sorry 
for him. This bedraggled looking boy who did not even know 
enough to cut his hair or get a coat that fitted possessed nothing but 
his ambition and a wildly reiterated declaration that he would speedily 
learn all of those things of which he was not so ignorant. General Foy 
shook his head. "I do not want to abandon you , . . " he murmured. 
Dumas was tearful in his plea not to be abandoned. "Well," said 
the General in a dubious voice, "write your name and address and I 
will inquire ... I will see ... " Dumas, with that touch of the 
sentimental-dramatic that was to be a part of his ardent nature all his 
life, refused the General's own pen as a profanation and took another. 
He inscribed his name on a sheet of paper with failing spirits. This 
meant nothing. This was merely a polite way of getting rid of him. 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 69 

He would not hear from General Foy again. The deep voice of the 
General broke in on his despair. He said: 

"We are saved!" 

Dumas lifted a bewildered face. 

"Your handwriting!" exclaimed General Foy. "You write a beau- 
tiful hand." 

An insupportable shame swept over Dumas. He who desired to 
conquer Paris possessed only a good handwriting. He could aspire, 
perhaps, to the future of a copying clerk. This was too much. But the 
General went on, relief in his voice. He was dining that day at the 
Palais-Royal. He would speak to the Due d'Orleans. He would tell 
him that he ought to take the son of a Republican General into his 
offices. It would be a good gesture. He bade Dumas sit down and 
draw up a petition to the due. Then he dismissed him, inviting him 
to lunch the next day that he might inform him what had transpired 
at the Due d'Orleans' dinner. Dumas returned disconsolately to the 
Hotel des Vieux-Augustins. A copying clerk! It was ridiculous. But, 
then . . . Mathematics. Algebra. Geometry. Physics. Law. Latin. 
Bookkeeping. Peste! Arriving at the hotel Dumas found his long 
awaited letter from the Due de Bellune. The young man hesitated 
before breaking the seal. On either side of him stood good and evil 
fortune. Which would it be this time? The Due de Bellune informed 
M. Dumas that he had no time for personal interviews and begged the 
gentleman to lay before him in writing anything he had to say. Dumas 
wrote back that he had desired only to lay before the due a letter of 
thanks which he, the due, had once written his general-in-chief, 
Dumas, but inasmuch as he could not have the honor of seeing the 
due personally he would send a copy of the letter. The young man 
passed the rest of the day brooding about the morrow. 

General Foy, surrounded by the debris of his historical undertaking, 
was at work as he had been on the previous day. He received Dumas 
with a smile. 

"It is all settled," he said. 

Dumas turned an astonished face toward him. "How? . . . 
What? ..." 



70 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

"Yes, you are to become a supernumerary on the secretarial staff of 
the Due d'Orleans. The salary will be twelve hundred francs a year. 
It is not much but it is your opportunity." 

Dumas seemed to spin in flashes of light. 

"It is a fortune!" he cried. "And I begin?" 

"Next Monday." 

"Next Monday?" 

"Yes. The chief clerk in the office has already been notified." 

"What is his name?" 

"M. Oudard. Use my name when you introduce yourself." 

Dumas was nearly speechless with joy. 

"Oh, General ... I ..." 

He flung his arms about General Foy's neck and kissed him. The 
General released himself, laughing. 

"There is true metal in you," he said. "But do not forget to study." 

"I will live by my handwriting now," declared the young man, "but 
I promise you that there will come a time when I will live by my 
pen." Dumas gabbled on excitedly. He would hurry home to tell his 
mother the news and return to Paris by Sunday night. He would 
labor indefatigably. A luncheon table was spread and he lunched 
tete-a-tete with the General. The food and wine warmed him and he 
began to discuss his literary ambitions, describing the plays he in- 
tended to write, the poems, the romances. Foy listened tolerantly, 
smiling a little at this enthusiasm that was to do so much on twelve 
hundred francs a year. If he was a trifle dubious he made no sign. 
After all ... Dreams . . . foolish hopes . . . fugitive clouds of 
illusion. 

Dumas dashed from the rue du Mont-Blanc to the rue Pigale. 
Adolphe rejoiced with his friend. The old de Leuven continued to 
tend his roses, a smile of quiet ridicule on his worldly-wise face. 
Madame de Leuven thought of the joy that Madame Dumas would 
experience on the morrow and tears came into her eyes. As for 
Dumas, he was in the seventh heaven. Napoleon had been no happier 
when, after the espousal of Marie-Louise, he had repeated three times, 
"My poor uncle Louis XVI!" 

By four-thirty Dumas was in the diligence and the heavy wheels 
were rumbling along the road to Villers-Cotterets. 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 71 

II 

The Paris of 1823 was a far different city from the glittering metrop- 
olis of vast boulevards which stretches along the Seine today. It was 
ruled by a sick gourmet, Louis XVIII,, that Bourbon who had been 
Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, Comte de Provence, and who had been raised 
to the throne in 1814 as the least of several evils. Who placed him on 
the throne? Nobody knew. It had been circumstance. The Allied 
Powers had not wanted him, not even Alexander of Russia. The 
French populace had not cried wildly for him. Perhaps circumstance 
was another name for Talleyrand. France was tired. It was weary of 
long campaigns and the constant raising of regiments. It was ex- 
hausted with Pyrrhic victories. It was tired of a ruler who represented 
in himself action. Louis XVIII did not represent action. His fine head 
and intelligent eyes crowned an absurdly corpulent body which sug- 
gested the reverse of action. This impotent and lethargic frame 
' brought to mind no prancing white horse that lifted its pink nose and 
sniffed the battle from afar. It suggested peace, a time of quiet 
breathing after fifteen years of ceaseless and gigantic effort. And so 
there was peace in France. There was peace in Paris also. Louis 
XVIII ruled. J His Ministry consisted of Comte de Peyrormet, Keeper 
of Seals; Vicomte de Montmorency, Foreign Minister; Comte de 
Cubieres, Minister for the Interior; le Marechal Due de Bellunc, 
Minister for War; Marquis de Clermont-Tonnerre, Minister for the 
Navy; Comte de Villele, Minister for Finance; and Monsieur de 
Lauriston, King's Chamberlain. It was not a brilliant cabinet. France 
was as tired of brilliance as she was of war. 

To understand this Paris through whose arteries Alexandre Dumas 
walked, one must, first of all, comprehend the fact that Baron Hauss- 
mann was yet to exist. It was a Paris of narrow cobbled streets and ; 
dirty-yellow buildings, "a city full of shadows cast by occasional oil 
lamps, hanging on strings, or by torches carried by fearful pedes- 
trians." It had its open expanses, its Champs lysees, its Champs-de- 
Mars, its Luxembourg Gardens, but an almost impenetrable darkness 
concealed these breathing spaces at night. It was not until 1829 that 
the first gas light was solemnly ignited in the rue de la Paix. The 
only mode of conveyance was by omnibus and private carriage (by 



72 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

1836 there were three hundred and seventy-eight buses rumbling 
through the streets) for the chcmin dc fer was not introduced until 
1837. It was difficult to move about, then, and while it was safe 
enough in the central districts that were more or less lighted by the 
shop windows and oil-lamps it was a ticklish matter to strike off into 
the byways, the tortuous side-alleys where footpads and drunken 
assassins lurked. 

During tte day a bustling activity animated the thoroughfares. 
Itinerant merchants, dirty and unshaven, swarmed along the cobbles 
shouting and singing their wares. German tinder. Lumettes. Ink. 
Toothpicks. Perfumes of the seraglio. Cocoa. Liquorice water. 
Theatre checks. Cakes of Nanterre, sold by red-armed and bold-eyed 
girls. In the rue du Havre sat one of the characters of the city, the 
bedraggled merchant of tripes h la mode de Caen. About the Pont 
Neuf, on it, and along the Quai des Augustins (and these were 
probably the first glimpses of Paris that Dumas saw) was a motley 
horde of tradesmen pushing hither and thither and vociferating their 
goods, pictures by bad artists, second-hand bargains, fritters, fried 
potatoes, and dogs. The dtcrotteurs (shoe-blacks) wandered through 
the mob in search of young bucks (ambitious Rastignacs) who de- 
sired to have their boots polished before they fared toward the Fau- 
bourg St. Germain. In all the carrefours were the colored booths of 
the saltimbanques (mountebanks and clowns), before the larger of 
which hung gaudily painted advertisements of such wonders to be 
seen within as skeletons of Chinese mandarins, the sword with which 
Fernando Cortez conquered Mexico, the glass through which Colum- 
bus discovered America, a button from the breeches of King Dago- 
bert, the cane of M. Voltaire, colossal women and white negroes. The 
shrill whine of music came from these booths and mingled with the 
strident yells of the barkers. Then there were the chanteurs (singers 
of topical songs) who stood on the corners or before the open fronts 
of the cafes and bellowed doggerel full of concealed political allusions, 
much to the joy of the shifting mob. In odd corners were raised the 
tables of the arracheurs de dents malades ou saines who pulled teeth 
with rusty forceps to the loud roars of their swollen-jawed victims. 
Threading their way through the crowd were distributors of marvel- 
lous powders warranted to cure any ailment at all in woman, man or 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 73 

beast and also to act as love-philtres and aphrodisiacs, as the case might 
warrant. The crowd itself was a kaleidoscopic study of ex-officers of 
the Imperial Army, young bucks ogling giggling wenches, solemn 
burghers in long coats, noisy students, clerks, pickpockets, and ladies 
of the town. It was a vivid medley of shouting, jostling, laughter, 
singing and fighting. 

The Palais-Royal remained as it had been under the Empire, the 
center of pleasure and business. Shops lined the arcades and third- 
class tailors did a thriving business in redingotes, habits and gilets. 
Young clerks gaped at wasp-waisted blue coats ornamented with gold 
buttons and the old beaux forced their fat paunches into white gilets 
embroidered with green flowers. Restaurants abounded and the 
hungry pedestrian might dine for two francs at Chez Urbain or Chez 
Richard; if he were a gourmet and desired to plunge he might go to 
the more expensive places, such as Very, Vefour, or Les Freres 
Provenfeaux. The smoking dishes were hurried to the stained tables 
and the tall bottles of wine were emptied again and again. Limona- 
diers refreshed the thirsty with sorbets or agreeable liqueurs. At the 
two extremities of the Palais-Royal were the merchants of provisions 
who sold everything from enormous turbots to the smallest larks. 
Charlatans, pedicures, dentists, curers of headaches, were scattered 
along the wooden galleries, and between four and five o'clock in the 
afternoon, painted beauties strolled through the throng seeking for 
trade. Around the corner was the Comedie-Franjaise where for a few 
francs, the dramatically minded might see Talma or Mademoiselle 
Mars in one of the solemn turgid dramas left over from the Empire. 

This, then, was a Paris of movement and life, held in check only by 
the colorless qualities of the Bourbon government. It was a place 
where young men, especially those young men born under the suns of 
Austerlitz and sensing the romantic spirit already in the air, might 
push themselves forward, winning by their sheer effrontery what their 
fathers had won by the sword. Art had languished under Napoleon. 
He could create a brigade but he could not create a poet. He could 
proscribe Chateaubriand, Madame de Stael and Lemercier, and he 
could present valuable posts to Lebrun, to Luce de Lancival, to Baour- 
Lormian. Louis XVIII was no better, for the Royalist reaction struck 
out fiercely at literary men. But literature succeeds in spite of dynas^ 



74 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

ties, and in 1823 Paris was full of writers. The more illustrious of 
diem, those who had achieved a certain position, included Chateau- 
briand, Jouy, Lemercier, Arnault, fitienne, de Beranger, Charles 
Nodier, Viennet, Scribe, Theaulon, Soumet, Casimir Delavigne, Lucien 
Arnault, Ancelot, Lamartine, Desaugiers. These men differed in qual- 
ity; some were to remain permanent fixtures in the hierarchy of 
French letters; others were to be outmoded and forgotten completely. 
But for the time all of them held the cultured ear. Then there were 
the writers whose interests were political, Cousin, Salvandy, Ville- 
main, Thiers, Augustin Thierry, Michelet, Mignet, Vitet, Cave, 
Merimee and Guizot. Many of these men wrote for the journals, but 
they wrote circumspectly, for the sharp eyes of the Bourbon censors 
were upon them. 

The foremost journals of the time left much to be desired. There 
was the Journal dcs Debats, a government organ reflecting the con- 
ciliatory royalism of Louis XVIII and M. de Villele, a policy of 
optimism and vacillation. The Constituttonnel was liberal but timid 
and burst out only against the Jesuits. The Drapeau Blanc was non- 
descript. The Foudrc was the organ of the ultra-Royalists. The 
Miroir was at the opposite pole from the Foudrc; it was ultra-liberal 
and always in trouble. Animated by the wit and malice of such 
minds in opposition to the times as Jouy, Arnault, Jal, Coste, Castel 
and Moreau, it became the object of a relentless persecution on the 
part of the government. Suppressed as the Miroir it sprang to life 
again as the Pandorc; extinguished as the Pandorc it blossomed as 
Opinion; scotched as Opinion it made another desperate resurrection 
as the Reunion. Slaughtered as Reunion it remained in its grave to 
rise no more. There was also the Courricr jrangais, a periodical almost 
republican in a time when the word republic was anathema. It was 
for this journal that Adolphe de Leuven's father, that old gentleman 
who fed sugar to roses, wrote his editorials. 

When Dumas came to Paris, to this royalist city of dirt and noise 
and politics and governmental oppression, the shadow of the romantic 
movement was already distinguishable among the group of untried 
younger men who were at work. These men had yet to prove them- 
selves; not all of them were romantics; but as a whole they represented 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS ** 75 

a decided break with the older tradition. Among them were Victor 
Hugo, Alfred de Vigny, Honore dc Balzac, Frederick Soulie, Alfred 
de Musset, Sainte-Beuve, Auguste Barbier, Alphonse Karr and Theo- 
phile Gautier. George Sand was as yet unknown, the three famous 
women of the day being Mesdames Desbordes-Valmore, Amable 
Tastu and Delphine Gay, all poets. To say that Paris was a hive of 
romantic gestation would not be saying too much. Louis XVIII, 
thanks to his policy of vacillation, was to die a king and Charles X, 
thanks to his policy of tyranny, was to live out the last few years of 
his life in banishment. The romantic movement may be said to have 
flowered into full life in the revivifying flame of the Revolution of 
1830. When Louis-Philippe came to the throne the romantics came 
into the sunlight. But they had been preparing for some time. Led 
by Victor Hugo and Alfred de Vigny they presented a formidable 
front. By 1823 eager young men were scribbling away in their attic 
rooms, writing dramas that would have horrified Racine and com- 
posing poems and prose works that marked a clean break with the 
outworn formalism of the past. It was a good time, therefore, for the 
undisciplined and ardent nature of Dumas to feed upon the inspiration 
of the young men around him. He lacked a background and they 
created it for him over night. 

Ill 

The time had come to face facts. Dumas desired that his mother 
sell out everything and come to Paris with him, but Madame Dumas 
demurred. She might be naive; nevertheless she possessed common 
sense and understood far better than her son the value of money. His 
income was to be twelve hundred francs, and at best he was only a 
probationer. In three months he might have nothing, not even a desk 
in the establishment of the Due d'Orleans. Madame Dumas did not 
dare to sell out her bureau de tabac, remove to Paris, and trust to 
fortune so utterly. She had probably never intended to do so. Alex- 
andre must have his first wrestle with fortune alone and unhampered. 
It was therefore decided that he should return to Paris without her 
and that his bed, bedding, table linen, four chairs, a table, a chest of 
drawers, and two sets of plate would be forwarded to him. He was 



76 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

to engage a cheap room, settle down, work hard, and when his posi- 
tion was secure he was to write to his mother. Then she would 
hesitate no longer; she would sell everything and join him. As a last 
gesture his mother divided the small remnant of her money with him, 
kissed him and bade him godspeed. 

Sunday evening a mob of townfolk gathered outside M. Carrier's 
house where the awkward-looking diligence stood, and assisted at the 
departure of Dumas. He was like one of the navigators of the Middle 
Ages setting forth to discover new continents. Everybody was there, 
everybody but Adele Dalvin. She was not there, nor did Dumas 
expect her. It is doubtful that he thought of her. His quick mind 
could forget as easily as it could be hurt. But the gossips were all 
there, Madame Darcourt, Madame Laf arge, Madame Dupre, Madame 
Dupuis. Like those knitting women, those ferocious madames of the 
Terror, who sat before the guillotine and counted the heads of the 
aristocrats as they dropped like melons into the bloody basket, they 
were present to hear the farewells between mother and son. There are 
no meetings and partings, no births and deaths in French towns that 
are not witnessed by the madames, who are, after all, the tragic Greek 
chorus of the comedy of life. They are the commentators on existence 
and their marginal notes are history. They will watch the passing of 
an Emperor and the departure of a country lad with the same vague 
consciousness that both are integral portions of the annals of Time. 

Madame Dumas, long after her son's diligence had disappeared, 
stood watching the vacant road with tears in her eyes. 

Dumas, arriving before the familiar number nine, rue de Bouloy, 
Paris, paused no longer at the Hotel des Vieux-Augustins than to fling 
his bag in a small chamber. He then set forth in search of permanent 
lodgings. There is no more exciting occupation than this: to be young, 
to arrive in the great city where one's fortune is to be made, and to 
run up and down strange flights of stairs seeking for the little corner 
that will be home. Dumas went up a great many flights of stairs for 
he soon learned that the higher one mounted the cheaper the rent 
would be. He finally entered the immense mass of houses called the 
Italian quarter, and, climbing as usual, discovered a small room on the 
fourth floor of number one, Place des Italiens. It was small but it 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 77 

boasted an alcove. It was papered with a jaundiced yellow paper that 
had cost twelve sous the piece. It opened on the back yard. The con- 
cierge announced that it might be had for one hundred and twenty 
francs a year. Dumas with the gesture of a Monte Cristo, admitted 
that it suited, that he would move in immediately and that his furni- 
ture would arrive on the following day. The concierge hinted that a 
denier a Dieu might not be amiss. Dumas did not know a denier 
a Dieu from the King of Dahomey. He suspected that it might be a 
commission on letting the room. With a majestic gesture, copied from 
the unfortunate Lafarge's box-coat era, he thrust his hand in his 
pocket, drew forth a napoleon and dropped it in the palm of the 
concierge. As the coin dropped twenty francs as a denier a Dieu on 
a hundred and twenty franc room the concierge nearly dropped with 
it. That individual, blowing through his whiskers like a walrus, told 
his wife that a prince traveling incognito had taken the little room 
upstairs. Madame Concierge immediately bustled up the four flights 
and requested the honor of looking after M, Dumas. M. Dumas 
agreed with a haughty air; he also agreed to pay her five francs a 
month for this favor. 

Again in the streets Dumas savoured the city with a new air, an 
air of possession and conquest. These people hurrying by, these bright 
windows, these shouting hucksters and saltimbanques, all this medley 
of noise and movement and confusion formed the trappings of the 
stage upon which he, Alexandre Dumas of Villers-Cotterets, was to 
play an important part. He was to conquer this innumerable-headed 
monster and tame it. The time would come when he would enter 
brilliantly-lighted porticoes on the arm of Monsieur de Chateaubriand. 
He would gaze into the starry eyes of Mademoiselle Mars. It is in this 
way that youth expatiates upon the future while walking through 
muddy streets and avoiding lice-ridden peddlers. Dumas turned 
toward the humble quarters of General Verdier, quarters which, like 
his own, were four flights up. But General Verdier, taking advantage 
of a fair Sunday evening, had gone out to stroll along the boulevards. 
Dumas decided to do the same thing. He stepped along with his head 
held high. Presently he reached the Caf de la Porte-Saint-Honore 
and peering inquisitively through the small-paned windows into the 
crowded and lighted interior he saw someone he knew, the son of 



78 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

that ancient Hiraux who had striven so hopelessly to make a violinist 
of him. Young Hiraux welcomed Dumas, explained that he was the 
proprietor of the Cafe de la Porte-Saint-Honore and invited the youth 
to remain for dinner. Dumas sat down (he had not realized his 
hunger before) and ate everything that was put before him. It was 
excellent. Then, expanding under the gentle sensuous magic of smok- 
ing viands, he decided to plunge, to go to the Porte-Saint-Martin 
theater and witness the production of Le Vampire. 

Reaching the theatre Dumas discovered enormous queues of people 
enclosed by barriers waiting their turns at the ticket offices. This 
seemed strange and the young man prowled about helplessly. One 
of the habitues of a queue observing Dumas's confusion called to him. 
"Hey, you!" Dumas turned with dignity. After all, he was a super- 
numerary clerk in the Due d'Orleans' office. "Yes, you with the frizzy 
locks," continued the uncouth habitut, "would you like my place?" 
Dumas loftily ignored the insult to his hair. "Have you a place?" he 
inquired. "Can't you see for yourself?" Dumas couldn't see anything 
at all but a mob of pushing people. Still, perhaps the offensive stran- 
ger had taken a place in advance. With alacrity he paid the franc 
demanded by the habitue and leaping over the barrier took his posi- 
tion in the queue. He fondly imagined that this franc would carry 
him into the theater. When he reached the ticket office he discovered 
his mistake and reluctantly disgorged six francs from his pocket while 
the queue whistled and roared at him to hasten. A dull flush mantled 
his face and he was debating whether he should challenge the stout 
shoving gentleman behind him to a duel when he was forced through 
the doors. The pit was full and Dumas found himself in the midst of 
the noisy claque, which at that time ruled the theaters. When he 
removed his hat a murmur of laughter went up from the claque. 
Dumas glared about him. He was as sensitive about his hair as 
d'Artagnan was about his buttercup-yellow pony, "Pardon me, gen- 
tlemen," he said, "but I should like to know the cause of your laugh- 
ter, so that I may be able to laugh with you." There was a dead 
silence and then from the depths of this silence a solemn voice ex- 
claimed, "Oh! that head of his!" Dumas immediately turned and 
slapped the wag's face and challenged him to a duel. Three minutes 
later he found himself in the street. 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 79 

He began to reflect that hastiness was not always a desirable quality. 
It was well enough to be punctilious about one's honor but i one had 
come to witness a performance of Lc Vampire one might as well 
exercise a bit of discretion. He had already spent more money than 
he should but the play lured him. Carefully avoiding the entrance 
through which he had been unceremoniously hustled into the street 
he entered the theater again, buying another ticket, this time for the 
orchestra. His reception was courteous enough. The orchestra con- 
tained a different stamp of people from the rowdies of the pit and 
Dumas sank with a sigh of relief into a seat beside a gentleman 
wearing grey trousers, a buff waistcoat and a black tie. He was read- 
ing a small tome entitled Lc Pastissier Francois, printed by Louis and 
Daniel Elzevir at Amsterdam in 1655. 

Dumas with the ingenuousness of the country boy entered into 
conversation with the gentleman by inquiring if he were extremely 
fond of eggs. The gentleman raised his eyes and observed the frizzy- 
haired lank boy in the long coat. There was something about the 
frank blue eyes turned upon him that he liked. They talked. The 
strange gentleman explained the rarity of Elzevirs, the means by 
which they might be identified, the various title pages, and a dozen 
and one bibliographical items which were so much Greek to Dumas. 
He had never been aware of the rarity of books. The rise of the 
curtain put a stop to this flow of information. 

Lc Vampire was an old fashioned shocker, a weird sensational 
drama with supernatural beings flitting about the stage and all the 
impossible hocus-pocus of the vampire legend of Lord Ruthven. 
Dumas was enthralled with it. He thought Philippe as Lord Ruthven 
marvelous and Madame Dorval wonderful as Malvina. The strange 
gentleman beside him did not take so agreeably to the play. He 
groaned, made audible remarks of the most caustic nature, was angrily 
hissed by his neighbors, and at length relapsed into Lc Pastissier 
Franfois. After the first and second acts he conversed engagingly with 
Dumas about all sorts of things, vampire legends, rotifers, Nero, and 
claques. The young man listened to this easy flow of knowledge and 
language with the most pleased attention. It is doubtful that he 
enjoyed the play more than the intervals, and his disappointment was 
obvious when after the second act the strange gentleman rose, ex- 



8o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

plained that he could stand the horrible play no longer and departed 
hugging his Elzevir to his buff waistcoat. Dumas settled down to the 
third act. At one of the climaxes a loud mocking whistle shrilled 
from one of the boxes and shouts of "Put him out!" rose from the 
hired claque. Dumas suspected the source of this interruption and 
in a moment he saw his unknown gentleman in the buff waistcoat 
being escorted from a box. This man was Charles Nodier, bibliophile 
and author, and one of the unknown playwrights who had concocted 
this very drama he was ridiculing. 

Monday morning at ten thirty a new Dumas made his appearance 
at the Palais-Royal, and after inquiring his way of the porter, mounted 
to the right angle of the second court where the Secretariat of the 
Due d'Orleans had its quarters. He was a new Dumas because he had 
had his hair cut. Meditation during the night on this subject had 
convinced him that he resembled one of those itinerant pomade- 
sellers. These fellows went about offering their own heads as their 
best advertisements. Shorn of his locks Dumas resembled a seal. He 
also turned his long coat over to a tailor requesting him to slice off 
about a foot. It had taken the young man but a single day to discover 
that he was somewhat behind the times in point of style. How much 
his experience at the theatre had to do with this renovation of his 
person should be obvious. 

Dumas's heart beat violently as he entered the offices on the third 
floor of the Palais-Royal. There was no one there but some office boys 
who viewed him with that vulgar and importunate curiosity so pecu- 
liar to office boys. Dumas sat and waited, hat in hand. The boys 
filled ink-wells, made sly remarks about him, stumbled over his feet 
and then drifted away before the clerks who began to filter in. One 
of these clerks named Ernest showed Dumas the corner where he was 
to work. It was in a small room with three desks. The young man 
sat down before a desk on which had been placed paper, pens and ink. 
He felt extremely foolish. Just what this small bare room with its 
business-like atmosphere would do to him and his future was a 
mystery. It was an extremely small beginning for an ambitious youth 
who desired to have plays produced at the Th^atre-Franfais, and it 
/night prove a cul-dc-sac as well as a door to fame. The woodwork 




A View Under the Arcade oj the Palais-Royal 



THE ASSAULT ON PARIS 81 

was splintered and the windows were dusty. There were strange faces 
all about him. Downstairs in the court sounded many feet hurrying to 
the wooden galleries that lined the many offices. Dumas picked up 
his pen and prepared to copy letters. 

He was interrupted several times during this first day. There was 
his chef de bureau to see, M. Oudard, a brusque, fair-minded man 
who welcomed him to his office and referred to the excellent recom- 
mendations given Dumas by General Foy and M. Deviolaine. Dumas 
had been unaware that the irascible Deviolaine, now installed in the 
Palais-Royal as Conservator of the due's forests, had put in a good 
word for him, and he hurried to that growling gentleman's den to 
thank him. M. Deviolaine's temper was as furious as ever. He grum- 
bled a welcome to Dumas, warned him against wasting his time on 
filthy plays and trashy verses, cursed him out and then offered him 
a loan if he needed it, and told him that he could dine at the Devio- 
laine home as often as he liked. He then added: "But now be off, you 
cub! You are making me waste time." Then there was M. de Broval. 
M. de Broval was the Due d'Orleans' Director-General and he was 
punctilious about showing Dumas how to fold envelopes and write 
letters. The young man discovered that his duties were purely me- 
chanical. He was to copy out in the finest handwriting the largest 
possible number of letters, and these, according to their importance, 
were to be signed by M. Oudard, M. de Broval or even by the Due 
d'Orleans. This work was arranged by the chief clerk, Lassagne, who 
shared the little office with Dumas and Ernest. It was all simple 
enough and it left Dumas time in which to dream about his literary 
ventures. 

Freed from his first day's labors Dumas wandered toward the Hotel 
des Vieux-Augustins. The city was peculiarly sweet in the twilight 
and the feeling that he was one of this myriad of people hastening 
home from shops and offices was strengthening to his pride. He had 
never felt this way while he had been in the employ of Mai'tre Men- 
nesson or M. Lefvre. There he had been a boy playing at being in 
business. Here he was on the humble rung of a ladder that might 
carry him anywhere. He passed the narrow lighted portico of the 
Theatre-Fran? ais with a sigh of mingled aspiration and pleasure. For 
the first time he realized fully that he was now a citizen of Paris, that 



82 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

its cafes and streets and theaters belonged to him, were to be a part 
of his daily life, Villers-Cotterets seemed very far away, the misty 
dream of a little town near a great forest. 

At the Hotel des Vieux-Augustins he gathered together his few 
garments and set out toward number one, Place des Italiens. He 
climbed the four flights, turned his key in the door and entered. His 
furniture had arrived and the wife of the concierge had put it in 
place. The lamplight cast a pleasant glow on the jaundiced wall- 
paper. It was his home and he sat down and gazed about him with 
an air of pleased pride. It was not much but it was a beginning, and 
more often than not the beginning was everything. He sat for a 
long time ruminating on the day's events, the pleasant manners of 
Lassagne, the cheerful face of Ernest, the brusque graciousness of 
M. Oudard, the fussy punctiliousness of M. de Broval, the bear-like 
manner of M. Deviolaine, the sheaves of white paper, the steady 
scratching of quill pens, the cries of clerks in the courts of the Palais- 
Royal, the little restaurant at the corner where he had lunched 
hastily with Lassagne and Ernest, the flower girls who strolled along 
the wooden galleries, the hawkers crying from every corner. A faint 
mist of loneliness, intangible, hardly sensed, crept about the small 
room. Was it his mother he wanted? What was it? He put on his 
hat and started forth for his dinner, and descending the first few 
steps from the fourth floor he stepped aside to let a plump little 
woman with a smiling face and bright hair pass. She entered the 
door opposite his own and as she entered she looked back. Dumas 
stood and observed the door for some minutes and then, whistling 
softly to himself, he proceeded on his way downward, crossed the 
Place des Italiens and steered a course toward the river. It would 
be fine to see the Seine flowing beneath its many bridges in the 
early evening and to pick out the squat towers of Notre Dame etched 
against the dark blue sky. 



CHAPTER FOUR 

SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 
I 

LASSAGNE, chief clerk of the small office wherein Dumas scribbled 
away with Ernest, was a young man of taste and literary inclinations. 
Endowed with an extremely slight creative power, he more than made 
up for the thinness of his talent by a sound comprehension of literary 
values. He was a critic and not to be taken in by the hollow fame of 
the more prominent men of the day. It was from him that Dumas 
received excellent advice as the two men became better acquainted 
and discovered the creative urge in one another. Next to de Leuven, 
Lassagne was the most important influence on the mind of the young 
greenhorn from Villers-Cotterets. He disabused Dumas of his easy 
faith in much-bruited names. He scorned M. Arnault and detested 
that old gentleman's pompous and turgid plays, Germanicus and 
Marius h Minturncs. Lucien Arnault he thought still worse and 
burst into a stifled guffaw at the mention of Rtgulus. M. de Jouy 
was impossible; M. Lemercier was beneath mention; M. Baour- 
Lormian was terrible. These men created their own reputations in 
the newspapers. Dumas's jaw dropped at this decisive iconoclasm. 
"If you want to write," said Lassagne, "do not take the literature of 
the Empire as your model." He pointed out the stilted and absurdly 
formalized technique of the older men, the ridiculous set speeches, 
the dry bastardization of Racine, the absence of blood and actual 
emotion, and the grumbling artificial oratory. Whom should the 
young man take as models, then? Lassagne shrugged his shoulders. 
The younger men, Soumet, Guiraud, Casimir Delavigne, Ancelot, 
possessed talent; Lamartine and Hugo were inspired poets. "The 
theater is humanity," said Lassagne. "I have said that our young 

83 



84 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

dramatic authors possess talent, that is, Soumet, Guiraud, Delavigne, 
Ancelot; but take heed of this, they belong solely to a period of transi- 
tion; they are links which connect the chain of the past to the chain 
of the future, bridges which lead from what has been to what will be." 
Dumas thought this over. Lassagne was prophesying a new era. 
The literature of the immediate future, the works to be written by 
those young men born beneath the suns of Austerlitz, would be a 
complete split with the past, a refusal of the ideas of the Empire, and 
a school in itself. What was it to be? Lassagne did not know. 
He did know that Dumas should imitate nobody. "Take passions, 
events, characters," he advised, "and smelt them all down in the 
furnace of your imagination." He was prophesying the romantic 
movement although he did not know it. He questioned Dumas as to 
his reading. The demoralized young man had read nobody. Lassagne 
advised him to read Shakespeare, Schiller, Moliere, Terence, Plautus, 
Aristophanes, Goethe, Walter Scott and Cooper. Goethe would give 
him poetry; Walter Scott would give him character studies; Cooper 
would give him the mysterious grandeur of prairies, forests and 
oceans. "Ah," said the young man, "then a man who could be a 
poet like Goethe, an observer like Scott, and clever at description 
like Cooper, with the addition of passion ..." "Would be almost 
perfect," ended Lassagne. They conversed in this way for some time 
while Dumas's quill pen hung suspended in mid-air. Suddenly 
Lassagne said, 'Trance is waiting for the historical novel!" The 
thought had never entered the young man's head, He exclaimed, 
"But the history of France is so dull." At this moment the unborn 
ghosts of d'Artagnan, Athos, Aramis, Porthos, Chicot, Coconnas, 
Henri Quatre, Bussy d'Ambois, Queen Margot, Ange Pitou, La Mole, 
the Due de Beaufort, Fouquet, Balsamo, the Chevalier de Maison- 
Rouge, Mauleon, Richelieu, and a hundred others stirred uneasily 
in the misty cavern of the future. "Dull!" shouted Lassagne. He 
stared with pity at the blushing clerk. "How do you know it 
is dull?" he asked. "People have told me so," replied Dumas. "Peo- 
ple!" exclaimed Lassagne. "Read for yourself and find out." "What 
must I read?" "A whole world of books," answered Lassagne. "Join- 
ville, Froissart, Monstrelet, CMtelain, Juvenal des Ursins, Montluc, 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 85 

Saulx-Tavannes, 1'Estoile, Cardinal de Retz, Saint-Simon, Villars, 
Madame de la Fayette, Richelieu. . . . " He strung off names until 
Dumas was dizzy with the sounding syllables. He know nothing 
about them. He was twenty-one years old and the entire history of 
France was a closed book to him. 

Lassagne proceeded with his advice. He told Dumas what poetry 
he must read, Homer, Virgil, Dante among the ancients, and Ronsard, 
Mathurin Regnier, Milton, Goethe, Uhland, Byron, Lamartine, Victor 
Hugo and Andre Chenier among the moderns. Dumas, who had 
read nothing except a little Voltaire and a great deal of Parny, Bertin, 
Demoustier, Legouve and Colardeau, heard these strange names and 
carefully wrote them down on the slip of paper which was already 
crowded with notations. He observed this list a little woefully, for 
it seemed to him that he would have to spend the rest of his life 
reading, that the time would never come when he would be equipped 
to write. The overwhelming sense of his ignorance shamed him. He 
resolved, however, to apply himself most intensively to this universe 
(for it was not less) that Lassagne had outlined for him. He dis- 
covered within a short time that he could copy without thinking of 
what he was copying, and this enabled him to ruminate on other 
matters while his pen scratched swiftly and neatly across page after 
page of paper. He began to dip into works of the authors suggested 
by Lassagne, and as he labored in his office he would recall to memory 
scenes from these works. He searched always for passions, for the 
lively movement and interplay of the emotions, and the vague con- 
ception of art which had so briefly stirred in his mind in Villers- 
Cotterets fluttered again. As yet he could not formulate it, but under 
the guidance of Lassagne he could recognize the falsities of the con- 
temporary art of Paris, could see that it lacked the spark of life. Just 
what was needed he knew no more than Lassagne; but his mercurial 
intelligence was leading him toward the solution of the problem, a 
solution which he reached as soon as Victor Hugo did with the sup- 
pressed Marion Delorme and the sensational Hernani. Beside him was 
Lassagne, gentle-voiced and persuasive, pushing him forward through 
a labyrinth of literature and life, and within a few months the country 
boy was a country boy no longer. He was a Parisian. 



86 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Dumas's closest friend was still dc Leuven, who was struggling 
without particular success to achieve an acceptance at some theatre. 
How could it be that dc Leuven had never spoken of these great 
writers Lassagne knew by heart ? Could it be that the failures of the 
son of the Swedish nobleman were in some way due to the young 
man's ignorance of them? Dumas remembered the old Baron's 
malicious little smile as he fed sugar to his roses. He decided to 
ask the young Swedish writer about this, but Adolphe was full of 
his own woes. He had recently written a drama in collaboration with 
Frederic Soulie, and it had been refused at the Gymnase Theatre. 
Before this they had concocted from Walter Scott a drama called 
Lc Chdtcau dc Kcnilworth that had a sudden demise. Adolphe, 
therefore, was fretting and fuming when Dumas reached his house. 
There was nothing to do but sit and listen to Adolphe's woes, and 
when the dinner hour arrived, to sit and listen to the entire Arnault 
family. 

M. Arnault was not difficult to listen to. Subtle, mordant, and 
satirical he was an excellent example of the elder author and play- 
wright born out of the discordancies of the Revolution into the 
thunder of the Empire. Marius h Minturncs had been produced in 
1790 to the plaudits of the sans-culottes and among his other plays 
were Lucrecc, an abysmal failure, Oscar, an Ossianic tragedy dedi- 
cated to Bonaparte, Lcs Vtniticns, and Gcrmanicus. He had resided 
in Paris through the Terror, known Danton, Desmoulins and the 
other leaders of that chaotic period, and followed Bonaparte to Egypt, 
been chief clerk at the Universite during the Empire one of his 
clerks being Beranger who wrote Lc Roi d'Yvetot there had been 
exiled in 1815, was fond of dogs and was extremely short-sighted and 
forgetful. He could talk excellently and the entree to his home which 
Dumas obtained through the de Leuvens afforded the young man the 
greater part of his social converse during his first year in Paris. Out- 
side of these homes he possessed very few places that would receive 
him. He was young and raw and without influence. He made the 
most, therefore, of the few friends he had. 

Among them Frederic Soulie, the collaborator with Adolphe of 
Lc Chdtcau dc Kcnilworth. Soulie, born in 1800, was the first of the 
important men of his generation whom Dumas knew. He never 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 87 

agreed with Soulie and Soulie never agreed with him but their lit- 
erary antagonisms did not disturb their friendship. Souli was in his 
early twenties when Dumas first met him, a lusty young man of 
medium height, with dark hair, eyebrows and beard, and with thick 
lips and white teeth. It was pleasant to drop into his chambers in 
the rue de Provence, to listen to his malicious bantering for he 
thought little of Dumas at first to eat cakes and drink tea, to 
sing ribald choruses, to discuss the future with the hodgepodge of 
visitors who circled about Soulie. There were also times when Soulie 
grew serious and declaimed from his poems and plays. He was versa- 
tile and turned out with some ease poetry, dramas and novels. None 
of this work was distinguished, but it was adequate for its time, and 
when Soulie died he left a little fame behind him, a fame based on 
such efforts as Amours Frangaises, Clothilde, Eulalie Pontois, Lc Ma* 
gnetiseur, Les Deux Cadavres and Lcs Mcmoircs du Diablc. He was 
one of the forerunners of the new literature but he lacked coordina- 
tion; his technique was haphazard; his beginnings and endings 
pitiful; his exposition confused and obscure. But he was a dynamic 
character, sure of himself and with decided convictions. It was good 
for young Dumas to brush against him in verbal arguments, and 
although the youth hardly knew what he was talking about, the con- 
versation often clarified his own thoughts and brought him closer 
to that cognizance of himself and what he desired to do. In Lassagne 
and de Leuven and Soulie he possessed three mentors who brought 
him varying things. Lassagne opened the doors of living literature 
to him. De Leuven spurred him to constant literary endeavors. Soulie 
impressed upon him the humility of his own ignorance. There was 
still a fourth friend who played no small part during this period. 

This was a young doctor named Thibaut who possessed no practice 
and therefore had plenty of time to discuss literature and talk about 
the world. The way in which Dumas became acquainted with 
Thibaut throwns a light on the literary mannerisms of the day. 
During 1823 and 1824 it was the fashion to suffer from chest com- 
plaints. Poets, particularly, were consumptive; it was excellent form 
to expectorate blood after each emotion and to die to soft music before 
teaching the age of thirty. Dumas was tall and thin and so was 
Adolphe de Leuven, They were both poetically-minded so they 



88 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

decided to be consumptive. Picture Dumas, then, walking gloomily 
along the rue de Richelieu, coughing delicately now and then into 
a handkerchief. The hacking quality of this cough rose in ratio to 
the pulchritude of the young ladies who passed. It was natural enough 
to call on a doctor. Thibaut was the victim in this case, victim because 
Dumas had no money wherewith to pay his bill. But Thibaut liked 
the young man, saw the awakening of something real in him, rather 
pooh-poohed the bloodless cough for try as hard as he could Dumas 
might split the handkerchief but he could produce no blood and 
took the potential playwright with him to the Hofital de la CharitL 
There Dumas picked up some knowledge of anatomy and lung 
diseases, enough in fact to aid him materially with his novel, Amaury, 
some years later. Thibaut, who appears to have known a little about 
everything, undertook Dumas's education in various ways and for a 
brief period they passed many evenings together in a small room in 
the rue du Pelican which overlooked the passage Vero-Dodat. There 
they studied physics and chemistry, and Dumas first learned about 
the poisons which Madame de Villefort used in Monte Cristo. A 
coquettish young milliner named Mademoiselle Walker sometimes 
took part in these physiological studies. Dumas by this time was 
reading assiduously. After some boggling at Scott he developed a 
genuine love for him; he devoured the translated work of Cooper; 
he formed a real passion for Lord Byron. With Thibaut to give him 
science, Soulie criticism, de Leuven ambition and Lassagne passion, 
Dumas in a single year traveled a tremendous distance from the bird- 
snares of Villers-Cotterets. 

His progress at the Palais-Royal was satisfactorily enough so far 
as the estimate of his superiors went. He worked easily with Ernest. 
Lassagne had become a personal friend. M. Oudard maintaintd his 
impartial but courteous supervision, and M. de Broval appeared 
rarely. He had even seen, talked with and done special work for 
the Due d'Orleans. The due at that time was about fifty years old, 
exceedingly stout, with a bright and intelligent eye, affable though 
slightly withdrawn in the true aristocratic manner, and when he 
was in the mood given to singing in a voice atrociously off-key. 
Dumas's handwriting pleased him and the young man was called in 
occasionally to the private offices to copy special matter from the die- 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 89 

tation of the future Louis-Philippe* Dumas had an extra duty which 
he shared with Ernest. The due lived in Neuilly and every evening 
one of the young men was despatched there with the evening papers 
and any personal letters that may have arrived late. This material was 
presented to the due who, after glancing through it, dictated his orders 
for the next day. The trip was irksome because it took two hours 
out of the evening, from eight to ten, and therefore it was impossible 
for the messenger to go to any play except the one at the Theatre- 
Fran^ais which was next door to the Palais-Royal. Fortunately there 
were free tickets for the Theatre-Fran$ais, M. Oudard having three 
a day at his disposal, and Dumas was soon acquainted with the 
repertoire and present at all new productions shortly after the opening 
night. The craze for the theatre was upon him. He talked, ate and 
slept 3rama and as his four friends were in the same bemused condi- 
tion it was natural that his creative impulses should wholly tend that 
way. 

Dumas had changed in appearance during the months at the Palais- 
Royal. His hair was not as long as a pomade peddler's nor as short 
as a seal's. His coat fitted properly; a foppish note of color crept into 
his gilets; his trousers hung gracefully over well polished and pointed 
boots. In the evening he wore a cape a la Byron. He carried a cane, 
walked bareheaded, assumed a melancholy expression and no longer 
encouraged quarrels with the claques. His incursions upon the social 
evenings of the de Leuvens and the Arnaults gave him a certain 
degree of savoir faire. As he was naturally bright, spontaneously 
witty and quick to comprehend, he pleased. During his free hours 
he continued to collaborate with Adolphe, and several vaudevilles 
and dramas began to assume a somewhat inchoate stature on paper. 
He was also writing poetry and it is obvious that he considered him- 
self primarily a poet, a dramatic poet, at this time. As yet his creative 
endeavors were too meager to conflict with his clerical work. How- 
ever, he was underpaid and understood that he must supplement his 
wages by outside work of some sort. Most of the clerks found it 
impossible to live on the pittance reluctantly turned over to them by 
the thrifty due. Some of them had married sempstresses who added 
their earnings to the common fund. Others acted as waiters in thirty- 



90 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

two sous restaurants on the Left Bank. Dumas wanted to double his 
income by writing successful plays. 

On January i, 1824, he was promoted from supernumerary clerk 
at twelve hundred francs a year to the post of regular clerk, an 
appointment bringing in fifteen hundred francs. For a short while 
the three hundred extra francs a year dazzled him. He considered 
his state to be flourishing and wrote to Madame Dumas, reminding 
her of her promise to sell out the bureau de tabac in Villers-Cotterets 
and join him as soon as he was definitely settled in Paris and his 
fortunes appeared to be waxing. Madame Dumas, to whom three 
hundred francs seemed a very great amount indeed, consented and 
started negotiations for the disposal of her little shop. She sold it 
and the greater part of her shabby furniture, and wrote to her son 
that she would arrive with her bedstead, a chest of drawers, a table, 
new armchairs, four chairs and a hundred louis in cash. A hundred 
louis! Dumas was amazed and delighted. It was double his own 
year's income and meant that they should have twenty-four hundred 
francs a year for the next two years. He needed this extra money as 
we shall see, for an event important both to Dumas and to the future 
of French drama was about to transpire. 

The love which Dumas bore his mother was unquestionable. 
Though in the heedlessness of youth he might neglect her the quality 
and profundity of his affection was never in doubt. It is possible that 
he dramatized himself somewhat even in this passion as he dramatized 
his life throughout his career. He was always his own best audience 
and his greatest play was himself. A vanity that was child-like and 
negroid possessed him, the sort of vanity that caused his son to say 
years later: "My father is so vain that he is not above mounting 
behind his own carriage so that people will think he possesses a 
negro footman." This vanity was curbed in his youth. It needed 
success and public adulation to bring it out. When he did blossom 
he blossomed as does some exotic flower from the tropics which 
spreads its enormous scarlet petals to the warm sun. His love for 
his mother was a brightly hued petal. He loved to expatiate on it 
in later years, to burst into tears at the thought of it. And while it 
seemed slightly maudlin to colder-blooded folk it was nevertheless 
reasonable enough in a man whose blood was Latin and negroid. 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 91 

Dumas hardly ever rationalized; to think of an emotion was imme- 
diately to be a part of it, to enter into it, to quiver, sigh and exhaust 
oneself with the delicate furore of it. Madame Dumas, for her part, 
worshipped her son and possibly, with the tenacious combativeness 
of the mother, she worshipped him all the more because he was so 
constantly decried by worthy neighbors and gossips. They saw no 
more than a pushing youngster; she saw a pulsing ambition that 
was resistless. When the gossips warned her against leaving Villers- 
Cotterets for the uncertainty of Paris she said nothing. Her son would 
look out for her. 

On the twenty-ninth of July, 1824, the event important both to 
Dumas and the future of the French drama took place. As he him- 
self proudly put it: "Whilst the Due de Montpensier came into the 
world at the Palais-Royal, a Due de Chartres was born to me at 
number one Place des Italiens." In other words, he had a son, that 
Alexandre Dumas fils who was to write La Dame aux Camelias and 
Lc Demi-Monde. It happened naturally enough. Opposite his fourth- 
floor room and across the landing was a door. Behind this door lived 
Marie-Catherine Lebay, a short and blond young sempstress, who had 
separated from her husband and come from Rouen to make her way 
in the capital. She was not pretty but she was charming. It was this 
young woman Dumas passed on the stairs the first evening at number 
one Place des Italiens, They had passed each other often on the stairs 
in the days following. Bright looks had given place to smiles; smiles 
had developed into greetings; greetings had enlarged to conversations. 
It was not long before the young man was invited from his single 
room papered with jaundiced-yellow to the larger quarters of Marie- 
Catherine. She possessed two rooms. The solitariness of the two 
young people did its work. Dumas, when he was not with de Leuven 
or Thibaut or at some performance at the Theatre-Fran^ais, was with 
Marie-Catherine. They dined in the cheap little restaurants of the 
Palais-Royal or she cooked some simple meal in her rooms. She was 
bright, cheerful, anxious to joke at life, and she listened in awe to 
the roseate future the young man prophesied. He thrilled her with 
names. He had talked to the Due d'Orleans that day. He had seen 
the King come from the Tuileries. He was fat and white and 



92 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

lethargic and he had leaned back in his heavy coach. There was 
death in his face. M. de Broval had a large red nose and sometimes 
he almost folded it into his envelope. Marie-Catherine would laugh 
at this. 

Then they would walk along the quais where M. Villenave, the 
old bibliophile, poked through the dusty bibelots and quartos and 
folios, and that sweet twilight of Paris which is unlike any other 
twilight in the world would descend along the river, and Notre 
Dame, the Institute, the Louvre would assume a clear quiet color 
that transformed them into buildings out of a dream. The ardent 
nature of young Dumas would respond quickly to the smiles and 
bird-like mannerisms of Marie-Catherine. They walked hand in 
hand. And one evening when they had climbed the four steep flights 
of stairs and reached the little landing Dumas did not turn into his 
own room. 

After that the jaundiced-yellow papered room and the two cham- 
bers opposite ceased to be different dwellings. There was only one 
apartment, a three-room apartment, four flights up at number one 
Place des Italiens. It was the habit of the day. Young men, clerks, 
poets, dramatists, possessed their small menages unblessed by the 
soutaned priest. These young people passed their brief springtimes 
together, shook hands and parted, achieved fame and made advan- 
tageous marriages. If they remembered each other at all it was with 
a half smile and a tear. It was the first Bohemia, the legendary land 
of Henri Murger. With light hearts these enfants du stidc gazed 
back from more spacious chambers to the little rooms where they 
had weathered life so long with their young mistresses and made 
a mock of life and all its cares. Branger understood. 

For Dumas this addition to his menage meant renewed worries 
over the future. His mother was on her way from Villers-Cotterets 
with her furniture and a hundred louis. It would be necessary to find 
quarters for her also, and he spent many long days tramping through 
the streets in the neighborhood of the Palais-Royal searching for 
rooms that would be both satisfactory and cheap. He found them at 
last at fifty-three Faubourg St. Denis in a house adjoining the Lion 
d* Argent. There, for three hundred and fifty francs a year he secured 
two rooms. His mother arrived with her furniture, moved in and was 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 93 

delighted. Dumas ostensibly dwelt with her, although the greater 
part of his free time was passed at the Place des Italiens where Marie- 
Catherine was nursing his child. He now had two menages to support 
on his fifteen hundred francs a year. It seemed an impossible task but 
he determined to succeed with the aid of plays. He had two or three 
of these efforts in hand with de Leuven, but de Leuven had failed in 
collaboration with Soulie, and it began to be obvious that a third 
collaborator was needed, one with practical knowledge of the con- 
temporary Parisian theatre and some sort of entrance there. It was 
not that de Leuven lacked application. He had written a Bon Vieil- 
lard which had been refused at the Gymnase; his Pauvre Fille had 
been rejected at the Vaudeville; Le Chdteau de Kenilworth had not 
even been considered at the Porte-Saint-Martin where a play on the 
same subject had just been presented, De Leuven's failure was pos- 
sibly due to an inability on his part to spot and work up situations 
which actually were "theater." He was too timid, too safe. 

So while the two young men searched for a third "practical" col- 
laborator they continued to block out their ideas. Dumas settled his 
mother at fifty-three Faubourg St. Denis and then hurried off to 
Marie-Catherine and the child who had been named Alexandre. It 
was just as well to give him a famous name at the start. Madame 
Dumas scoured her little apartment, formed an acquaintance with 
M, Despres who lived next door and was dying of consumption, and 
waited with some degree of tremulous calmness for her son's triumphs. 
She had experienced so many disappointments and sorrows that she 
was a trifle uneasy about these prophesied triumphs, but her son's 
ebullience overcame her misgivings. He procured theater tickets from 
M. Oudard, Adolphe and M. Arnault, and plunged her into a week 
of play-going. The poor widow who had witnessed no more than 
half a dozen dramas during her lifetime was entranced. Perhaps, 
after all, things would turn out well. In the meantime the hundred 
louis she had brought with her dwindled away, on new curtains, 
clothes for the baby, a gilet for her son, a dozen and one unexpected 
trifles. The roar of Paris was about her and she was somewhat be- 
wildered. Her heart, which had always beat a little too fast, weakened 
as the time crept along. 

At this time while Alexandre Dumas fils was wailing in his cradle 



94 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

and M. de Chateaubriand was being ejected from the ministry for 
his opposition to the re-established censorship, Destiny who treats all 
impartially wrote out a brusque order concerning Louis XVIIL One 
morning, the twelfth of September, 1824, two bulletins were issued 
from the Tuileries, making it known that the King's illness was 
incurable and that he had not long to live. Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, 
Comte de Provence, and by the grace of Talleyrand, King of France, 
was suffering from mortification of the legs. The Bourse and the 
theaters were closed and the populace of Paris passively awaited the 
end. The bulletins issued from the Tuileries were the first that France 
had read since the death of Louis XV. They were also the last. On 
the sixteenth of the month at four o'clock in the morning the King 
died, and as the death-sheet was being drawn over his face the herald- 
at-arms turned to the Comte d'Artois, brother of the dead man, and 
exclaimed: "The King is dead! Long live the King!" Charles X 
walked from the room, assisting the weeping Duchesse d'Angouleme. 
In this way a King who had retained his throne through a vacillating 
policy made way for a King who was to lose his throne because of 
a tyrannous royalism. 

Dumas was not so absorbed in politics at this time as he was to be 
six years later when his patron, Monsieur le Due d'Orleans, was to 
mount the dangerous throne as Louis-Philippe. He observed the 
funeral cortege with calm eyes as it wound its way to Saint-Denis; 
he read Chateaubriand's Le Roi cst Mort! Vive le Roi! and thought 
it poor stuff; he absorbed Les Funer allies de Louis XVIII, an ode 
by a stocky young man named Hugo, and considered it wonderful; 
he heard that the Marquis de la Fayette was making a triumphal 
tour of the United States of America and wondered vaguely about 
that far-away land; he saw from the journals that Lamartine had been 
rejected by the Academy and that a gentleman named Droz had been 
elected. So the year 1824 came to an end. 

On January 3, 1825, Tallancourt, a retired Napoleonic soldier, gave 
a dinner at the Palais-Royal to Dumas and another soldier of the 
Empire named Betz. Tallencourt had recently been appointed to 
the Due d'Orleans' library and the dinner was to celebrate this 
appointment. The three men dined well and then adjourned to the 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 95 

Cafe Hollandais to smoke a cigar. Dumas, who detested tobacco 
(unless it were served up in some exotic shape as in a narghileh) 
and tobacco cafes, went with them reluctantly. He was clad in a large 
cloak, one of those romantic items of the day rejoicing in the name 
of a Quiroga, and when he swept into the cafe, properly Byronic in 
all his gestures, he annoyed one of the habitues who was at that 
moment playing billiards. The annoyed gentleman looked at Dumas's 
voluminous cloak, leaned over the billiard table and said something 
to his antagonist, whereupon both players, glancing in the young 
man's direction, burst into raucous laughter. Dumas flew into a fury 
and seizing a cue mixed up the balls on the table while he said to 
his astonished Napoleonic soldiers, "Who would like to play billiards 
with me?" The usual results followed, cards were exchanged, a time 
and place fixed, and Dumas was scheduled for his first duel. 

There were elements of comedy in this combat. 

Tallancourt and Betz, uncertain of the raw youth's qualities, took 
him to a shooting gallery where the young man proceeded to pepper 
a poupee in proper style. He had not hunted in the forests about 
Villers-Cotterets for nothing. Tallancourt looked at Betz and smiled, 
and Betz gazed back at Tallancourt with an air of satisfaction. Then 
the two, acting as seconds for Dumas, called on the annoyed gentle- 
man's aides and discovered that the antagonist had chosen swords. 
"Ma foil" muttered Tallancourt, "This is different." He pictured 
Dumas run through the stomach. But Dumas reassured him and 
explained that old Mounier had taught him the art of fence. He 
even made some fiery gestures in the air, illustrating what tremendous 
lunges he knew and how well he could guard himself. Tallancourt 
scratched his car and said nothing. 

On the way home Dumas suffered a reversal of feeling. His bravery 
oozed from him. He thought of his mother, of Alexandre fils, of 
Marie-Catherine, of his future, and began to wish that he were well 
out of the mess into which his vanity had plunged him. He remained 
with his mother all evening and was extremely quiet. If only his 
heart would stop beating so furiously. He was sure that his mother 
could hear it. He went to bed and slept restlessly. At eight o'clock 
in the morning it was a cold, bitter day with snow on the ground 
he rose, wrapped his father's sword in his Quiroga, and set forth for 



96 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

the Hotel de Nantes, near which his encounter was to take place. 
The four seconds were there but the antagonist was decidedly missing. 
Nine o'clock passed. Ten o'clock. Eleven o'clock. Still no antagonist. 
Dumas, who had eaten no breakfast, experienced a plaintive gnawing 
at his stomach. Tallancourt who did not want to lose his new position 
through tardiness, was cross and impatient. The cold began to numb 
their fingers and feet. It seemed there were drawbacks about the 
romantic life. At length Dumas was sent along to the Palais-Royal 
to resume his copying, and the four seconds scurried off in search of 
the missing man. When Tallancourt came in, some half hour later, 
he explained that the antagonist had forgotten to get up. He had 
been skating on the canal most of the day before and had a pain in 
his back. His disgusted seconds withdrew immediately. But Tallan- 
court and Betz insisted on a duel and it had been arranged for the 
next day in one of the Montmartre quarries near the Rochechouart 
barrier. Dumas groaned. He decided that his seconds were too 

officious. 

In the morning he was at the Rochechouart barrier and there, 
worse luck, was his antagonist. The sight of six men walking sol- 
emnly into the Montmartre quarry drew a group of loafers who stood 
about offering obnoxious advice. Dumas discovered that his sword 
was two inches shorter than the one carried by his adversary. This 
did not make him feel any better. He flung off his coat and putting 
himself on guard strove to out-glare his opponent. But that individual 
had ideas of his own and demanded that Dumas remove both his 
gilet and his shirt. This seemed exorbitant to Dumas for it was a 
fearfully cold day but, as the opponent insisted, he thrust the point 
of his sword into the snow and flung off his upper garments. Then 
he took his pose again and his trousers, lacking the necessary support 
of braces, started to slip down. This threatened defalcation of a neces- 
sary garment was adjusted much to the delight of the congregated 
loafers. Dumas was excessively angry by this time and without more 
ado began the attack. His opponent guarded himself so carelessly 
that, after a few passes, Dumas lowered his weapon and said: "Defend 
yourself, monsieur!" "What if I do not choose to put myself into 
a position of defence?" replied his adversary with a furious scowl. 
The magnificence of this retort left Dumas speechless and he thrust 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 97 

out at him. The adversary leaped backward, stumbled over a frozen 
root, and fell head over heels into the snow. "Oh! Oh!'* shouted 
Tallancourt, "Have you killed him with the first pass?" "I barely 
touched him!" replied Dumas bitterly. The adversary's seconds, rush- 
ing forward, solved the peculiar acrobatic leap in which he had 
indulged. When Dumas had thrust his sword into the snow while 
removing his gilet and shirt the tip had frozen and this frozen tip, 
touching the antagonist's shoulder, had startled him so that he had 
performed a back somersault. This ended the duel Dumas donned 
his shirt and gilet, tightened up his trousers, flung his Quiroga about 
him, and descended the ramparts of Montmartre with a lighter heart 
than he had ascended them. 

He was to have other duels during his life and not all of them were 
to be as comical as this first venture upon the life militant. He was 
to face danger and face it with actual courage, or at least the aspect 
of courage. At the same time, he was never to plunge too close to 
the cannon's mouth. He himself has stated in his Memoires that he 
believed every man, especially if endowed with sensitive organizations, 
naturally fears danger, and if left to his own instincts, would do his 
best to escape it; he is kept back simply and solely by moral strength 
and manly pride. There is another quality that over-rides cowardice, 
which Dumas did not mention, and that is vanity. After a young 
man had fought his first duel in the Paris of the 18205 he may be 
said to have cut his eye-teeth and ceased to be a student of life. He 
had entered into life. Dumas had now entered into life, and though 
he dramatized his existence by such ridiculous accessories as a faked 
consumptive cough, a Quiroga, and a fire-eating attitude, he was, at 
bottom, real enough. He possessed a born romantic temperament and 
what others had to learn by difficult study and laborious rationaliza- 
tion came naturally to him. It is a temperament with flaws and there 
were indubitably grave flaws in Dumas, his vanity, his polygamous 
proclivities, his intoxication with himself, his occasional bland ignor- 
ing of the integrities of authorship, his posing, his oratorical nature; 
but all of these were excrescences on a veritable nature that was unique 
and quick with an enormous vitality. Michelet was to write years later 
to Dumas, "I love you and admire you because you are one of the 
forces of nature." In the young man of 1825 may be discovered that 



98 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

force of nature, quiescent as yet but decipherable at odd moments. 

While Paris was becoming crowded with foreign celebrities for 
the coronation ceremonies of Charles X, de Leuven and Dumas settled 
upon a third collaborator to assist them with their plays. His name 
was Rousseau and he was always drunk. He was not related to the 
famous Jean-Jacques. Prince Esterhazy came from Austria. Spain 
sent the Due de Ville-Hermosa. Great Britain despatched the Duke 
of Northumberland. From Prussia came General de Zastrow. The 
Prince Volkonski arrived from Russia. Charles X announced: "Noth- 
ing is changed in France, there is simply one more Frenchman in it." 
At the Palais-Royal there was a constant state of fte. His Majesty 
Charles X had graciously granted the title of Royal Highness (Son 
Altesse Royale) to the Due d'Orleans. Rousseau slept through all 
this. People died. On June twenty-sixth Pauline Bonaparte, Princess 
Borghese, breathed her last in Florence. The memory of embroidered 
slippers on tiny feet flashed through Dumas's romantic mind. Alex- 
andre fits was almost a year old. Rousseau lamented the death of 
Louis XVIH by getting drunk. He celebrated the succession of 
Charles X by getting drunker. He was the true Bohemian. When 
he possessed nine bottles of brandy he was surrounded by the Nine 
Muses. 

De Leuven and Dumas set out through the crowded streets in 
search of Rousseau. They carried as bait several bottles of good old 
Bordeaux, three flasks of rum and some loose sugar. They found 
Rousseau in the rue du Pctit-Carreau. He sat gazing out of a window 
and he lifted his blood-shot eyes in faint amazement when his two 
visitors entered. He saw the bottles and welcomed his guests. It is 
time to enlarge upon Rousseau. 

Rousseau, as has been intimated, belonged to that famous company 
V which included Villon and later, Favart, Dcsaugiers and Armand 
men who never worked except to the pop of corks. All sorts 
: quaint stories about Rousseau circulated through the literary circles 

Paris. He had, for example, engraved upon his memory the name 

a certain police officer, and neither brandy nor wine nor rum nor 
Branch could wipe it out Rousseau staggering, Rousseau stuttering, 
"lousseau tight, Rousseau drunk, Roussq^i dead drunk, Rousseau 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 99 

unable to remember his mother's name or his own name or his own 
address or the country in which he lived clung tenaciously to the 
name of that police officer. Whenever he was helpless he called for 
assistance and ordered that he be taken to that unfortunate guardian 
of the law. The worried policeman would then lead Rousseau home. 
Sometimes he carried him. Once Rousseau passed a restaurant called 
Les Deux Singes (The Two Apes). It was after midnight but he 
rang until an irritated waiter came down. "I must see the proprietor," 
hiccupped Rousseau. The proprietor got out of bed, dressed and 
came to the door. "What is it?" he asked, thinking that some one 
in his family had died. "I wish to speak to your partner,** stuttered 
Rousseau. "Partner? I have no partner," exclaimed the proprietor. 
"Then why do you put on your sign the Two Apes?" inquired 
Rousseau. "I think that is cheating the public." Another time an 
heroic friend strove to lead the inebriated Rousseau home. Rousseau's 
legs proved traitors. The friend gave up the unequal struggle, laid 
the unconscious dramatist down in front of a fruiterer's shop, placed 
a lantern beside him, and departed saying, "Sleep in peace, son of 
Epicurus. No one will trample upon you." In the morning when 
Rousseau awoke he found five or six sous in his hand, placed there 
by kind souls who had thought him a poor wandering outcast 

But in spite of his drunkenness Rousseau had talent. He could 
invent witty and clever lines. He could write engaging farces and 
vaudevilles. In other words, he knew the secret of sprightly dialogue. 
It was for this reason that Dumas and de Leuven, aware that some- 
thing was lacking in their own efforts, sougjht him out Rousseau 
welcomed them and permitted them to bear him off to Adolphe's new 
chambers in the rue de la Bruyere. There the young men set him 
down and proceeded to read in turn to him their collected wods. 
When they looked up Rousseau was sound asleep and snoring on 
the couch. They roused him and he asked permission to take their 
scripts with him, two melodramas and three comic operas. He would 
read them carefully and deliver an opinion within a few days. The 
young men watched him lurch out with some misgivings. "Will he 
return or not?" asked Dumas. "We will invite him to dinner and 
at die foot of the invitation write 'there will be two bottles of 
replied Adolphe. 



ioo THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Rousseau did make his appearance at dinner and explained that 
neither the melodramas nor the comic operas pleased him. The 
melodramas were borrowed from well known novels and the comic 
operas were founded on ideas that were dull from beginning to end. 
Dumas was discouraged but Adolphe's faith in himself was fortified 
by a doubt of Rousseau. "He has not read them/' he whispered to 
Dumas, while Rousseau was emptying the second bottle of cham- 
pagne. This might be true and it helped to restore Dumas's confi- 
dence. He began to tell tales about his youth in Villers-Cotterets, 
about old Hiraux and his violin, about Mounier and his pierced uvula, 
about the Parisians who came to the forest on hunting expeditions. 
There was the case of M. Arnault, author of Marius h Minturnes, 
who had come to hunt in the Tillet Wood. He had been given a 
good position and, as he was extremely short-sighted, he had seated 
himself on the ground. He drew a note-book from his pocket and 
started a fable. Soon he heard a rustling in the wood. He laid down 
his note-book, picked up his gun and vaguely aimed it in the direc- 
tion of the sound. "Oh, monsieur," a woman's voice cried out, "don't 
shoot! You will kill my cow." M. Arnault cleared his throat and 
courteously replied, "Are you quite sure it is your cow and not a 
roebuck?" "Oh, Monsieur, you will see. . . ." And the woman, 
running up to the cow, pulled vigorously at the poor beast's tail until 
it emitted a loud doleful moo. "You are right," said M. Arnault. 
"I think I am mistaken." He sat down on the ground and returned 
to his fable. 

Rousseau slapped his thigh. 

"What do you mean by telling such capital stories as that and yet 
amusing yourself by cribbing melodramas from Florian and tales 
from M. Bouilly?" he inquired. "Why, in the story you have just 
related there is the fruitful seed of a comedietta. I christen it La 
Chassc et T Amour" 

Adolphe ordered a third bottle of champagne. 

"You have character there," went on Rousseau, "a short-sighted 
sportsman. We will have him pepper the gaiters of his prospective 
father-in-law: He will mistake them for a deerV legs." 

Pencil^ pens and ink were secured and within an hour Rousseau, 
Adolphe aiid Ehimas Itad drawn up a complet 6 scenario of JU 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST tor 

et I' Amour. The scenario was divided into three parts, Dumas being 
assigned the first, Rousseau the second and Adolphe the third. The 
play was finished in a week. Its leading character was a ridiculous, 
green-spectacled Parisian sportsman and the usual love interest was 
pushed to its completion through a series of comic mishaps. Dumas 
outdid himself in a song which he put in the mouth of the sportsman: 

La terreur dc la perdrix 

Et I'effroi dc la becasse, 

Pour mon adresse a la chassc, 

On me cite dans Paris. 

Dangereux comme une bombe, 

Sous mes coups rien qui ne tombe, 

Le cerf comme la colombe . . . 

A ma seule vue, enfin, 

Tout le gibier a la fitvre; 

Car, pour mettre a bos un Itivre, 

Je suis un fameux lapin! 

Having finished the play the next thing to do was to place it. The 
first theater approached was the Gymnase where both Adolphe and 
Rousseau were in favor with M. Poirson. Dumas, his pride to the 
fore and his desire still to make his debut by some great and astound- 
ing production, permitted his name to be erased from the script. It 
was offered, therefore, under the names of De Leuven and Rousseau. 
No sooner was it offered than it was rejected. A consultation of the 
young men followed immediately and a conclusion was reached that 
their masterpiece might have a better fortune at one of the humbler 
boulevard theaters. La Chasse et I' Amour was then submitted to 
M. Waretz at the Ambigu-Comique. It was accepted with acclama- 
tions and within a week rehearsals were called. 

Dumas was in the seventh heaven. He discovered that his one- 
third rights would be four francs and two free seats a performance. 
This was no fortune, but it was a beginning and it, was as much as 
he was earning at the Palais-Royal. At the same time, money would 
be welcome for Alexandre fils needed new clothes and Madame 
Dumas's hundred louis had melted away. Rousseau sobered up 



I0 2 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

sufficiently to introduce Dumas to a ticket broker named Porcher who 
purchased authors' free seats in advance and Dumas turned over to 
him his two seats per performance for the run of La Chasse et 
V Amour for the sum of fifty francs. Porcher was an institution in 
Paris. He did more in his time to help out penniless young play- 
wrights than the Minister of the Interior and the Director of Beaux- 
Arts together. During the twenty-five years that he loaned money 
to authors on their prospects at least five hundred thousand francs 
passed from his pockets into their hands. Dumas, his first fifty francs' 
earnings as a playwright jingling in his pocket, ran home to tell the 
good news to his mother. 

On September 22, 1825, La Chassc ct V Amour was produced at the 
Ambigu-Comique theater to the manifest delight of an audience that 
immediately took to its heart the green-spectacled hunter, played by 
a comic mime named Dubourjal. The play was published within a 
month or so by Duvernois as by MM. Rousseau, Adolphe and Davy. 
Dumas, apparently, did not want the authorities at the Palais-Royal 
to know that he was dabbling in this sort of playwriting. Just why 
de Leuven permitted the use of his first name only on the title-page 
is a mystery. Perhaps it was to balance his last name which had been 
on the play-bills. Dumas, sitting at the back of the theatre and hear- 
ing the applause, tasted and savoured the sweetness of his first success. 
These comic figures moving upon the stage had been created by him. 
That song of the hunter which aroused so much laughter had been 
spun from his own brain. It was true that this had been only a 
humble effort, that it could not be compared with Lucien Arnault's 
Regulus, for example, that there were no lines in it like Lucien's 
stirring "Quand le hfros finit, Ic dcmi-dicu commence" but there was 
laughter and movement in it, and it was a beginning. 

At the very opening of his career Dumas indulged in a type of 
collaboration he was to employ throughout his life. Years later this 
was to arouse the excoriating attacks of the malevolent Jacquot. 
Dumas furnished the idea and collaborators aided him in whipping 
it into shape. La Chasse et V Amour was a very small start, then, but 
it was enough to whet Dumas's appetite for further ventures of the 
same sort. He felt the spirit of creation rise within him, and he 
finished three talcs upon which he had been working desultorily. 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 103 

General Foy, his old patron, died, and the young man burst into a 
long turgid ode which was printed at once by Seder with a tide-page 
reading, &Ugie sur la mart du general Foy, far Alex. Dumas. This 
sixteen page pamphlet was the first of those hundreds of volumes 
to bear the name of Dumas, and it pleased him so much he decided 
to follow it with a volume containing the three tales* Porcher, recog- 
nizing in the young man a future profitable customer, advanced 
Dumas a hundred crowns. He took this money and the tales to 
Setier, and two days later he was correcting the proofs of Notwelles 
Contemporaincs, a two hundred and seventeen page book containing 
three stories, Laurcttc, Blanche de Beaulieu, and Marie, bearing the 
epigraph, "Fils d'un soldat, j'airne & choisir mes hiros dans let rangs 
de I'armtc" and with this dedication: "A ma Mtrc, hommage 
d' amour, de respect et de reconnaissance" When the book appeared 
it sold exactly four copies and obtained one review, a piece in Figaro 
signed by fitienne Arago. Dumas, a little dumbfounded by this, did 
not lose hope. Lassagne had offered to collaborate with him on a play. 

M. Oudard walked up and down his office in an angry manner. 

The tall young man in front of him continued to talk in a forcible 
and emphatic tone. "I am not M. Casimir Delavigne's age," he said. 
"I have not received the education which M. Casimir Delavigne had 
at one of the best colleges in Paris. No, I am only twenty-two years 
old; I am educating myself every day at the cost of my health; I 
learn when other people are fast asleep or amusing themselves. So 
I cannot produce work like M. Casimir Delavigne's. But, M. Oudard, 
I ask you to listen carefully to this: if I did not believe I could do 
different work in years to come than M. Casimir Delavigne's I should 
meet you and M. de Broval half-way and take a solemn oath never 
to touch literature again." 

The young man held his head very high when he walked from the 
room but he could not keep the tears from his eyes. He flung himself 
down at his desk and started to work with that angry industry which 
is so often the result of an outraged energy. One page. Two pages. 
The quill pen scratched over the surface of the paper. Because he had 
had a play produced! His name had not even been on the play. And 
because he was writing another play with Lassagne! The office 



104 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

snoopers were at work, jealous clerks who were incapable of anything 
but scribbling or waiting on table in cheap restaurants. Three pages. 
Four pages. M. Oudard, indeed! "Your scribbling proclivities, 
Monsieur, will interfere with your clerical duties!" Really 1 The 
flower girls on the wooden galleries of the Palais-Royal were chatter- 
ing like magpies. "I forbid you to work with Lassagne." This was 
the way with all pompous gentlemen in authority. The Palais-Royal 
did not want a clerk whose name crept into the papers. He looked 
up at the head clerk. 

"They have forbidden me to write plays with you, Lassagne." 

The frank glance met his. 

"They have forbidden me to help you with your playwriting, 
Dumas." 

The young men smiled. 

Their collaboration, already finished, rested in the office of the 
Porte-Saint-Martin theatre, La Noce et I'Enterrement. Dumas had 
found the theme in The Arabian Nights. It was a comic farce inter- 
spersed with songs and concerned a French valet, masquerading as 
a nobleman, who came to an island where it was the law to bury 
husbands with their wives and vice versa. Clever, amusing trash. 

"They want me to write like Casimir Delavigne," said Dumas to 
Lassagne. 

"Why not Npomucne Lemercier?" inquired the head clerk. 

It was five o'clock and they put on their hats and left the office. 
From his window M. Oudard watched the tall form of Dumas 
striding along through the court of the Palais-Royal. He muttered 
to himself: 

"I think that young man has revolutionary tendencies." 

La Noce et I'Enterrement, by MM. Lassagne, Dumas and Vulpian 
(Vulpian being a play doctor called in by Lassagne to aid in finish- 
ing the piece), was produced November 21, 1826, at the Porte-Saint- 
Martin theatre, a comic actor named Serres making his debut in the 
role of the parvenue lackey, Casimir Floriment. Did Dumas think 
of Delavigne when he gave this ridiculous character his first name? 
Dumas's name, as in the case of La Chasse et V Amour, was not on 
the bills, although the printed play when issued in this same year 



SPRINGTIME OF A ROMANTICIST 105 

carried the name Davy. Dumas and his mother witnessed the pre- 
miere from seats in the orchestra and the warm response of the 
audience flooded him again with that delicious sense of triumph 
which overwhelms young men when their first roses are flung at 
their feet by admiring throngs. However, Providence placed a stout 
bourgeois at his left who rose with a grunt when the curtain fell, 
fumbled for his hat, and mumbled to Dumas: "Come, come, it isn't 
such stuff as this that will uphold the theater." The young dramatist 
discreetly preserved his incognito and agreed with him dolefully. 
"La Noce et I'Enterrement" served its purpose. It ran for some forty 
performances and the money which Dumas received aided him 
materially in getting through the difficult winter of 1826. 

The young man was also a poet 

It was not alone the Ugie sur la mort du general Foy that revealed 
him in this light. During 1826 he contributed to the pages of an 
obscure periodical called Psyche. There was La Nereide. filegie 
antique, for example. 

Entends ma voix, 6 blanche Ner&de! 
Le souffle de la nuit a rafraichi les airs. 
Le del est pur, et ma barque rapide 
Rase, comme Alcyon, la surface des mers. 

and so on, for twelve stanzas. There was L* Adolescent Mdade, 
beginning: 

Un rtveil douloureux a rouvert ma paup&re; 

Ma mtre . . . oh done es-tu? Viens vite auprts de moi; 

Ne quitte plus ton fits: il a sur cette terre 

Si peu d f instants encore h rester avec toil 

Following hard upon this was L'Aigle BlcssS, opening: 

Un ctiglc, Schappt de son aire, 
Fixait sur le soleil son oeil audacieux; . . . 
Mais tandis qu'il planait au stjour du tonnere f 



io6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

La flbche d'un chasseur Vattcignit dans Ics deux, 
L'aigle blcssi retomba sur la tcrrcl 

Then there were Romance, Souvenirs, and Le Potte. 

This work is more curious than important, but it reveals a sensitive 
nature striving somewhat oratorically toward self-expression. Dumas 
was never a real poet. He could neither command the technique nor 
discipline himself sufficiently. His occasional verses were merely the 
outlet for his own rich nature and except during a brief period of 
these early years he never set great store by them. Once, years later 
when he was editing "Le Mousquetaire" a young versifier brought 
him some execrable lines. He read them and said, "My poor friend, 
your rhymes are not very rich (trts richc)? and then, noticing the 
crestfallen look on the youthful bard's face, he added hastily, "but 
they are quite well off (b leur rise!)" This criticism might apply to 
Dumas's own poetry. He was always one of the easiest and most free 
of authors. 

The year 1826 passed, then, to the encouraging spectacle of a second 
slight production, a handful of poems h leur aise, and an increasing 
distrust of the young man at the Palais-Royal. Dumas understood 
that matters were approaching a climax, that the first production 
which appeared under his own name would embroil him with 
M. Oudard and M. de BrovaL This, however, did not trouble him. 
He was filled with bright ideas and gigantic plans that would carry 
him far from his clerical duties for the Due d'Orleans. His mind 
was made up. Like Fernando Cortez he had burned his boats behind 
him. If he could not succeed as a literary figure (and at this time 
he meant as dramatist solely) then he would fail ingloriously as a 
clerk. He cast about for a new collaborator and his eye lighted on 
Frederic Soulie. 



CHAPTER FIVE 

THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 
I 

AMONG the important productions in Paris during the year 1823 were 
Casimir Bonjour's UlLducation ou Ics Deux Cousines and Guiraud's 
Comtc Julicn. Neither play is worth remembering for itself alone. 
Bonjour's drama was merely representative of the time. Guiraud's 
brought back to the Parisian theater after an absence of four or five 
years the illustrious Mademoiselle Georges. Georges was thirty-eight 
years old at this time, supremely beautiful, and in possession of those 
glittering diamonds that made her appear like a star upon the stage. 
The shadow of Bonaparte still hovered about her and made her an 
object of awed curiosity to the populace. "How is it that Napoleon 
came to desert you?" the unthinking Dumas once asked her. "He 
left me to become an Emperor/* she replied simply. This woman 
who had held the restless Corsican in her arms shared with Talma 
and Mademoiselle Mars the sovereignty of the French stage. There 
were other favorites, many of them, Mademoiselle Duchesnois, 
Lafond, Joanny, but at the apex was this trio left over from the days 
of the Empire. They were actors of the old school, noble and rounded 
in gestures and deliberate of voice, and their great personal charm 
and the success with which they maintained their followings may 
have played its slight part in damming the foaming flood of the 
Romantic reaction. They were not adapted to the new type of play 
and therefore they made a success of stilted dramas that would never 
have existed without their inspired presences. The personal triumphs 
were mistaken by the traditionalist playwrights as vindications of 
their hollow efforts. To realize what Dumas was about to bring to 
this dramatic scene one must understand the perplexing situation tHat 
existed at the time. 

107 



io8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

First there was the old tradition, dying hard but nevertheless dying, 
although its practitioners strove fiercely to maintain it. It was the 
tradition of Racine and Corneille emptied of the austere genius of 
those illustrious Frenchmen, a tradition of "tragedies" in the "grand 
style/' wherein Gallic actors clad in plumed helmets and striped 
togas strutted heavily across the creaking boards and delivered inter- 
minable exhortations. The unities were rigidly observed, one scene, 
one time, one action. No gesture of violence or physical energy was 
permitted. Now and then corpulent mimes weighed down with 
rattling tin armor would solemnly slap huge swords together alter- 
nately or a barbarous king, bellowing through a tin pot with eye-slits, 
would slide painfully to the floor and die to a hundred or more 
alexandrines. The women stalked about like ostriches, their billowing 
robes flowing behind like unbelievable tail feathers. In the comedy 
roles of Moliere they persevered in a stately coquetry. Racine and 
Corneille were inspired dramatists animated by a cold passion and 
a philosophical profundity, but between their masterpieces and the 
stiff productions of the Theatre-Francis as Dumas first knew it, 
there was nothing in common but the form. The tyrannous censor- 
ships of the Empire and the Restoration, suspicious always of innova- 
tion, embalmed this form and maintained it against a possible genre 
whose swifter actions might conceal political allusions. The play- 
goers of the day, therefore, were compelled to content themselves 
with Pierre Lebrun's Le Cid d'Anddousie, M. de Jouy's Belisaire, 
M. Camberousse's Judith and the productions of the Arnault family. 
It was always safer to place the deliberate action in a foreign (and 
preferably classic) land. Guarding this school of turgid playwriting 
were the grumbling watch-dogs of the Academy, pedants like M. 
Lemercier who cried out in horror at the sacrileges of the romantic 
movement, signed voluminous petitions against the dramas of Hugo 
and Dumas, and barred the entrance of Lamartine to the Academy 
by nominating the Archbishop of Paris in his place. 

It is curious that this war-like generation, embroiled in the cam- 
paigns of Napoleon, should have suffered such a lifeless school of 
drama. One reason would seem to be that the cup of actual living 
"was so brimming for them, that their days passed through such a 
fervent splendor of existence, that the many passions coiled about 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 109 

them so fiercely and so fierily that they were content to observe a 
vague, stilted, artificial adumbration of the human comedy. The 
literary sterility of the Empire may be explained through the rich- 
ness of its daily living. The masterpieces of France then were actions. 
But when, after this brilliant regime, came the quietude and dullness 
of the Bourbons the young men felt the necessity of relief through 
vicarious promulgations of sensations. France rested from great wars 
and as her weariness left her and the youths of the Empire became 
the men of the Restoration, a desire for artificial emotions, to take the 
place of the vanished real passions, sprang into being. In this way 
the romantic movement became the reactionary influence of the 
Empire on the dull reigns that succeeded it. It was simple enough 
for the exhausted heroes of Marengo to sit through one of Luce de 
LancivaPs dreary plays; it was, indeed, a rest, the reverse of their 
lives; but it was not so easy for the young men of the eighteen- 
twenties to sit through Lucien Arnault's Regulus. The abysmal 
vacuity of the Bourbon dynasty could be lightened only by a moving 
and sensational theater. 

The young men, then, became restless. Trained though they had 
been to relish the turgidities of Arnault and Lemercier and Jouy 
they found this boresome style as intolerable as their tedious lives. 
They drank from the fountain of Jean- Jacques Rousseau. Chateau- 
briand brought them the romance of England and Madame de Stael 
introduced diem to German letters. They became fiery with new 
aspirations, animated by ardours undreamt by their fathers, and they 
desired violently to see depicted on the stage those nostalgias for 
freedom that stirred within them. They wanted movement, physical 
contact, combats, adventure, passions, slices from their own history, 
characters with whom they could identify themselves, the exotic color 
of the newly discovered Orient. They yearned for the downfall of 
the endless exhortation, and in its place the easy natural flow of living 
language. The raw conflicts in the cheap boulevard melodramas 
appealed to them more than did the dry austerities of the Theatre- 
Franfais. What could age do against young men like these? It must 
give way sooner or later and the traditionalists found themselves 
retreating until they were safe only in the declamatory Bastille of 
the national theater. When this fell it meant that the old regime 



no THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

fell with it. The purpose of the young men, then, was to capture the 
Theatxe-Franfais, and the happy arrival of Baron Taylor gave them 
the necessary breach in the wall. Dumas appeared upon this scene, 
a veritable Ange Pitou, unaware that he was to assist at the taking 
of the Bastille. 

Baron Taylor had been appointed royal commissioner of the 
Theatre-Frangais in 1825 and Baron Taylor possessed modern ideas. 
It was through him that the doors of the national theater were 
thrown open to Dumas, to Hugo and to de Vigny. He was cautious 
and tentative, but he was a distinct weakening in that stony bulwark 
the traditionalists had so well reared against romanticism. Then, 
too, there had been the Salon of 1824, another ominous inroad upon 
the classical austerities. This exhibition had aroused a sensation by 
the inclusion of many canvases by young and romantic painters. 
These pictures opened still wider the eyes of the intelligent minority 
already quivering with the new impulse and preparing its assault on 
the Theatre-Frangais through the breach made by Baron Taylor. Ary 
Scheffer with his Mor t dc Gaston dc Foix, Delacroix with his Massacre 
de Scio, Sigalon with his Locustc faisant sur un esclavc Vessai de set 
foisons, Coigniet with his Le Massacre des Innocents, the canvases 
of Schnetz and Boulanger, all this riot of color and action hinted at 
a pulsing life beyond the dreary formalisms of the Empire. In his 
studio the dying Gericault heard the cry of the new era and answered 
it with his La MSduse. 

In 1827 Victor Hugo rallied the somewhat uncertain romantics with 
his preface to Cromwell. This document was, in effect, a manifesto 
of revolution. It removed the restrictions which the critical school of 
Boileau had put upon art. It demanded a fusion of the sublime and 
grotesque, in other words, the union of tragedy and comedy. It 
calmly destroyed the unities. It announced that all that we see in 
nature belongs to dramatic art. In no uncertain tone this twenty-five- 
year-old prophet declared: 

Let us then speak boldly. The time for it has come, and it would 
be strange if, in this age, liberty, like the light, should penetrate 
everywhere except to the one place where freedom is most natural 
the domain of the thought. Let us take the hammer to theories and 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN in 

poetic systems. Let us throw down the old plastering that conceals 
the fagade of art. There arc neither rules nor models; or, rather, 
there are no other rules than the general laws of nature, which soar 
above the whole field of art, and die special rules which result from 
conditions appropriate to the subject of each composition. The 
former are of the essence, eternal, and do not change; the latter 
are variable, external, and are used but once. The former are the 
framework that supports the house; the latter the scaffolding which 
is used in building it, and which is made anew for each building. 
In a word, the former are the flesh and bones, the latter the clothing 
of the drama. But these rules are not written in the treatises on 
poetry. Richelet has no idea of their existence. Genius, which di- 
vines rather than learns, devises for each work the general rules 
from the general plan of things, the special rules from the separate 
ensemble of the subject treated; not after the manner of the chemist, 
who lights the fire under his furnace, heats his crucible, analyses 
and destroys; but after the manner of the bee, which flies on its 
golden wings, lights on each flower and extracts its honey, leaving 
it as brilliant and fragrant as before. 

And again: 

The drama has but to take a step to break all the spider's webs 
with which the militia of Lilliput have attempted to fetter its sleep. 

This preface came like a "coup de tonncrre formidable dans le del 
classique" and Hugo immediately and tacidy was regarded as the 
generalissimo of the romantic forces* The insurgents possessed a con- 
stitution at last. 

Another unexpected and unsuspected phenomenon which quick- 
ened the romantic movement was the influence of English literature 
trickling across the twenty-two troubled miles of the English Channel. 
The easy movement and lyric poetry of Shakespeare (although it is 
doubtful that the French mind has ever really appreciated him), the 
melodramatic technique of Nicholas Rowe, the writings of Walter 
Scott, the poetry and astonishing life of Lord Byron, all this foreign 
influx encouraged and quickened the impulses of novelists, poets and 
playwrights* In 1827 a company of English players came to Paris, a 



ii2 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

troupe including Abbott, Charles Kemble, Harriet Smithson and 
Liston. They acted Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and several 
of the more popular English plays, The Rivals, She Stoops to Conquer, 
Love, Law and Physic. It was a revelation to the younger Frenchmen 
who crowded the theater and expatiated on these representations so 
filled with freedom and animation and spirit. Dumas who saw these 
actors again and again and whose opinion is representative of the 
young men of his era, exclaimed: "It is the first time that I have seen 
on the stage real passions warming men and women made of flesh 
and blood." Here was a spectacle of actors forgetting that they were 
on the stage. They did not turn to the footlights and solemnly tramp 
down to the lighted brink and declaim an oration for twenty minutes. 
They held each other in their arms; they kissed one another; they 
fought with swords; they fell with lamentable cries; they died as 
quickly as death will come. This season of 1827 was the turning point 
of Dumas's career; the vaudevilles a la Scribe were put behind him; 
it was time to place life upon the stage. It was the turning point in 
the careers of many other young men as well. The romantic move- 
ment had become explicit and they knew what they were about. It 
was time for the ultimate assault upon the frowning Bastille of the 
Thatre-Frangais. 

II 

Dumas went to Soulie. Souli had removed from his chambers in 
the rue de Provence and now lived near La Gare where he conducted 
a saw-mill in which more than a hundred workmen were employed. 
In other words, he mixed saw-dust with his inspiration. He was as 
obstinate as ever, although fortune had not provided him with a 
premiere as yet. Soulie listened to Dumas, smiled at the flow of enthu- 
siastic prospects and agreed to write a play with him. Why not? 
Dumas was young and could do the hard work. Neither of the 
budding playwrights felt equal to an original plot so they decided to 
extract one from Walter Scott. It was the fashion. Le Chfoeau dc 
Kcnilworth (not the unfortunate play fostered by Soulie and de 
Leuven) was running at the Porte-Saint-Martin and a Quentin Dur- 
ward was about to be produced at the Theatre-Fran^ais. Scott, then, 




FREDERIC SOUL IE 

This writer ivas the first real literary friend that Dumas knew 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 113 

was a treasure chest of material and whoso desired might thrust in 
his hand and draw forth a drama. Dumas and Soulie plunged eager 
hands into this Scott chest; they emerged with Old Mortality. Soulie 
was fascinated with the characters of John Balfour, of Burley and 
Bothwell. They would write a drama entitled Puritains d f cos$e, 
employing the same title as that of Bellini's opera produced at the 
Theatre Jtalien in 1835. But Soulie was Soulie still, hard-headed, 
stubborn and dominating; and Dumas was Dumas, unyielding and 
certain of what he desired to do. There was a surplus of individuality 
in the two men. They struggled at the collaboration, knocked their 
heads together, quarreled, argued, tore up each other's manuscript 
and at the end of three months had proceeded no further than they 
had at their first meeting. Dumas could collaborate indeed, about 
forty of his plays were to be put together in this way but it was 
necessary that he be the dominating factor. Soulie would not permit 
this; he, himself, was too dominating a figure. The result of Pun fains 
d'ficosse was a deadlock. The two men scowled at each other, smiled, 
shook hands and the collaboration was at an end. His attempt to 
work with a strong individuality was of inestimable profit to Dumas, 
however, for during it he had widened his range of vision. New forces 
began to spring up in him because of his struggle with this rough 
champion. 

About this time Dumas happened upon Schiller's Die Verschworung 
dcs Fiesfy zu Gcnua and the breath of revolt animating this tragedy 
of a state as well as an individual transported the young .man. Here 
were violent passions and situations calculated to seduce a budding 
romantic spirit. The enigmatical and noble figure of FiescodiLavagna 
stood out above all, and Dumas, charmed by the tragedy of Fiesco's 
conspiracy against the great house of Doria in Genoa, set to work at 
a translation of the play in French dramatic verse, submerging himself 
for long hours in the character of Fiesco, the noble republican, Verrina, 
and the Moor. He shifted and changed as he proceeded with his 
labors, revised scenes, cut out extraneous passages, heightened the 
climaxes. It was a laboratory exercise for the young man, filling long 
evenings with heart-breaking work. It was also a labor of love, for 
there was no hope of its production anywhere, and Dumas's prime 
purpose in translating this German Sturm und Drang tragedy was 



ii4 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

to receive practice in dialogue in verse. The time spent in working 
at this play was in the long run not lost at all; it added immeasurably 
to his comprehension of dramatic structure; and it even suggested 
episodes in several of his earlier plays. 

Dumas pushed through the crowd at the Salon of 1827, a shifting 
mass of people sprinkled with long-haired young men extolling the 
beauties of the English players, and paused before two small bas- 
reliefs by Mademoiselle de Fauveau. One of them represented a scene 
from The Abbot. He had read The Abbot and identified at once the 
situation which the delicate fingers of the young sculptress had 
moulded. The second bas-relief depicted the assassination of Monal- 
deschi. This was a mystery to the young man. He had never heard 
of Monaldeschi. No one had ever told him about Christine of Sweden. 
Something in the agonized figure of Monaldeschi appealed to him, 
and that evening at La Gare, while Soulie was discussing his Romto 
ct Juliette, the simulation in plaster of a wracked body leaped into his 
mind. Soulie was gloomy. The advent of the English players had 
made it evident to him that he would have to rewrite his paraphrase 
of Shakespeare's play. Monaldeschi was the name. Christine. Dumas 
did not dare ask Soulie about these historical characters, for the man- 
ager of the saw-mill would burst into laughter as raucous and cutting 
as his saws at such a revelation of ignorance. Instead, he asked for 
the Biographic universelle. Soulie indicated the bulky volumes. Dumas 
read the articles on Monaldeschi and Christine. For a long time he 
sat gazing at nothing in particular while a jumble of frantic incidents 
turned over and over in his mind. "There is a terrible drama in all 
that," he said presently. "In what?" inquired Soulie, lifting his eyes 
from his own copy. "In the assassination of Monaldeschi by Christine." 
A queer, amazed look came into Soulie's face and he rose abruptly 
to his feet. "I should think so," he answered shortly. "Shall we do it 
together?" asked Dumas. Soulie refused with such rude emphasis 
that the young man stared at him helplessly. "The fact is," said Souli6 
grudgingly, "I intend to use that subject for a tragedy myself." Dumas 
laid down the volume silently. Very well, then. Suddenly Souli 
laughed. He gazed closely at the tall form sitting before him and 
laughed again. "Go ahead," he said. "Write your own drama on the 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 115 

subject. I don't care." The idea of caring! Competition with a young 
ignoramus from Villers-Cotterets! "There are more theaters than one 
in Paris," he added, "and there are a dozen ways of treating a subject/* 
He would be generous. Not that he feared any rivalry. La Chasse et 
I 'Amour! La Noce et I'Enterrcmentl The young man was saying 
something. "But which of us will read it at the Theatre-Fran$ais?" 
Soulie controlled a smile as he answered: "Whichever shall finish first." 
"Would it not annoy you?" The earnest blue eyes were studying 
him. Soulie lost his temper. "What the devil do you think it would 
do to me?" he growled. The impertinence of the puppy! How many 
times had he lost his temper during the ill-starred collaboration? 
"You are not very amiable tonight," returned the puppy. Soulie 
scowled for a second and then smiled. After all Dumas was a gentle 
puppy. "I am not in a good temper," he replied. "The English players 
have upset me. I shall have to rewrite my Juliette." "I wish you 
would take my advice," remarked Dumas, rising to his feet. Soulie 
grunted. The young man proceeded: "Leave your Juliette at one side 
as I have done my Fiesque and work at something of your own." 
Soulie said "Bah!" 

Dumas wandered along the deserted boulevard. It was dark and a 
chill rain was falling. Monaldeschi. Christine. Dim scenes floated 
through the air. He reached the Porte-Saint-Denis and was about to 
leave the boulevard to re-enter the street when he heard loud cries 
ahead of him. Hurrying forward he saw in the midst of the rainy 
darkness four people struggling violently. Two men, evidently foot- 
pads, were attacking a man and woman and the assaulted man was 
defending himself as best he could with a slender cane. Dumas, with 
the gusto of a d'Artagnan, rushed to the rescue. He leaped on the 
back of the thug attempting to snatch a chain from the woman's neck. 
The other footpad, observing this unexpected arrival, vanished in the 
darkness. Dumas continued to sit on his captured thief and squeeze 
his throat until that unfortunate individual, considering capture better 
than strangulation, lifted a red face from the wet ground and bawled 
for help. Several soldiers came running from the nearby military sta- 
tion of Bonne-Nouvelle and pulled Dumas from his victim. The 
young man turned and looked into the frightened face of Adele 
Dalvin. 



n6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Soldiers like policemen are not over-blessed with brains, and as it 
was too dark for them to distinguish the robber from the robbed or 
the saviour from the saved, they marched the quartet to the guard- 
room. Dumas found himself walking beside Adele Dalvin. He had 
not seen her since that day in the woods when she had returned from 
Haramont bearing orange blossoms and with her bridal veil streaming 
behind her in the soft breeze. The trees then had been filled with a 
fainting scent. Twilight had crept up about the gnarled trunks. It 
was so long ago. She hardly dared look at him. Dumas said: 

"What were you doing out so late ?" 

There had been a special performance at the Porte-Saint-Martin 
theater and she and her husband had been to that. She had enjoyed 
the play. It was La Nocc et I'Enterrement. She looked up at him 
smiling. Really, she had not changed much. A trifle plumper, per- 
haps. Her hair was the same. And her eyes. 

"After that?" 

"Oh, we had supper in the theatre-cafe. . . . You know how greedy 
I am. Then we went to Charlard's chemist's shop. Then . . . " 

They turned into the guardhouse and were led to that part called 
the violon. Locks clicked behind them. 

"In the morning . . . Monsieur le chef du foste . . ." 

Footsteps died away. Darkness. Then a pale light that filtered 
through the barred window. The thief began to snore loudly. Dumas 
sat on the edge of the camp-bed and observed Adele. She was falling 
fast asleep with her head on the shoulder of her husband. The young 
playwright changed his position softly so that he might view her more 
easily. She was the first memory in his life. How they had wept 
together, mingling their tears in that little room to, which he used 
to make his way by running across meadows and leaping high walls! 
The scent of the countryside had been all about them and the great 
wheel of heaven, glittering with a million lights, had revolved above 
their young heads. Her hair had flowed across his face. She was 
asleep now. She was happy. Someone was it a letter to his mother 
from Madame Darcourt? had said that she possessed two children. 
Consolation for lost love. Lost? No love was ever lost. There were 
partings only. Had he not recently quarreled with Marie-Catherine? 
The best part of love was memory perhaps. Dumas closed his eyes. 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 117 

He had written a poem in the dark wood that night after the bridal 
procession had passed. How did it go? 

Qu'un autrc chantc tes appas 
Ou que tu restes inconnue * . . 
Pcu rnimporte . . . en vain la charrue 
Dtchire les terrains ingrats. 

Mais un jour autour dc Us charmes 
La mart roulera son linceuil 
Et dc la tombe insensible a tes larmes 
Tes pieds glaces dtpasseront le scuiL 

DSdaignant ta cendre endormie, 
Alors le voyageur par sa course emporte 
Passera pres de toi sans dire h son amie: 
"lei repose une jcune beautt" 

It was a poor poem. He had deliberately mispronounced "shroud" to 
make a rhyme. "Unccuil" should have been "linceul? Well, he had 
been young. Adele. ... He settled himself against the cold stone wall 
and composed himself for sleep. It was as easy as that. Not a scar 
left. He had wept about something a long time ago ... a long time 
. . * ago. Monaldeschi. Christine. Love and political ambition. The 
harshness of Christine and the cowardice of Monaldeschi. "There is a 
terrible drama in all that." The opening scenes of a play in verse stole 
into the consciousness of the sleepy young man. Odd couplets wound 
and unwound themselves like thin snakes of light in the dimness of 
the violon. His head bowed lower on his breast; his breathing became 
even and light and slower; in a moment there were four slumbering 
people in the small chamber. 

M. Oudard was one of those fair-minded humorless men who make 
perfect directors in offices of business. Nothing existed outside of his 
position and anything that interfered with the smooth routine of his 
department was a threatening obstacle to be disposed of as rapidly as 
possible. He did not approve of extraneous interests. They compli- 



u8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

cated matters and injected a spirit of diffusion in an atmosphere that, 
to his mind, should be devoid of anything but the steady scribbling 
of quill pens and the rusde of many sheets of paper. Dumas had 
developed into a disquieting influence. Lassagne was writing plays 
with him. Ernest was listening with mouth agape to sensational tales 
of life in the pasteboard world of the theater. Dumas was arriving late 
at his desk. He was leaving early. He was still determined to do 
"different" things from Uficole des Vieillards. He continued to sneer 
at the name of Casimir Delavigne. He was constantly interrupting 
his copying activities to mutter aesthetic jargon to Lassagne about 
Christine of Sweden, whoever she was. M. Oudard was disturbed. The 
mellow atmosphere of his office began to smack too much of the 
green room. It was time to eradicate young Dumas. At the same time 
he did not want to remove him from the payrolls of the Due d'Or- 
leans. After all, there was Madame Dumas to consider. And some 
one had told M. Oudard that the reckless young man had contracted 
an illegal union with a plump little milliner and that she had borne 
him a son. M. Oudard went into conference with M. de BrovaL 
"Hmm. Transfer him to the Record Office." Such a transference 
from the secretarial department, which was large and offered various 
opportunities for promotion, to the Record Office, which was a small 
cul-de-sac, was tantamount to disgrace. Dumas, apprized of the change 
by a much-concerned Lassagne, whistled to keep up his courage, re- 
moved his cloak from the hook, shook hands with Lassagne and 
Ernest, bowed gravely to M. Oudard who as gravely returned the 
bow, and departed in search of the Record Office. M. Oudard sighed 
with relief. There was no sound in the small office but the steady 
jcratching of pens. 

In the Record Office a tiny old man of eighty years looked up from 
i dusty bundle of papers with a baby-like scowl on his countenance. 
Dumas, who had clattered in noisily, stared at his future director with 
imazement. M. Bichet was dressed in satin breeches, variegated stock- 
ings, a black cloth coat and a gilet of flowered silk. This costume was 
touched off by various ruffles and frills. As he lifted his little face, 
ivhich was surrounded by a halo of fluffy white hair, he revealed a tiny 
peue thrusting cockily out over his collar. M. Bichet had dressed 
liis way since 1788. The Revolution, the Empire and the Restoration 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 119 

had not existed for him. He belonged to the period when Marie- 
Antoinette played milk-maid. Forgotten in his Record Office by time* 
he in turn had forgotten that Time existed. They were mutual stran- 
gers. He resented the acquisition of the tall young man who stood 
before him waiting for instructions. He might as well have a . - . 
have a dromedary in the office. His acquisition was offensively young. 
He probably whistled, knocked over books, wrote an atrocious hand 
and was generally worthless. To show his annoyance M. Bichet loaded 
Dumas's table with the accumulated arrears of work which had piled 
up since the last clerk, a noble fellow of seventy-eight, had gone to 
join Marie-Antoinette in Heaven. Then M. Bichet, smoothing his 
frills with a tiny white hand, ambled back to his eternal day-dream 
in his private nook. He hoped that that offensive fellow would not 
poke his nose in there for a month. 

Within three days Dumas completed a month's work and carried 
it in and laid it on M, Bichet's desk. M. Bichet came out of his trance 
with a sigh. If Louis XVI . . . no, no . . . Louis XVI was dead 
... if the Due d'Orleans thought that he was going to stand this 
constant running in and out of the office . . . He drew the pile of 
copy toward him testily. How the offensive fellow must have scamped 
it! Times have changed. Everything was rush now. In the good old 
days . . . "Eh! Eh!" ejaculated M. Bichet, his tiny eyes opening 
wide in his tiny face and his tiny mouth opening wider as he observed 
the copy. It was beautifully written; the margins were excellent; 
nothing was omitted. That handwriting. Why, surely! M. Bichet 
looked up with a beaming smile. "Your handwriting is the same 
style as Piron's, Monsieur," he announced and leaning back waited 
complacently for the young man to fall to the floor stunned by this 
compliment. "The deuce!" replied the young man. Now who in the 
devil was Piron? Slowly he realized. Piron was a minor poet of the 
old school who had once been employed in the Palais-Royal* "You 
have another point in common with him, I hear," went on M. Bichet 
slyly. "What is that, Monsieur?" "You write poetry." Dumas lowered 
his eyes and said, "Alas!" Was he in for another warning about 
wasting his time? M. Bichet was gazing at the finished reports. 
"Hum . . * good ... in fact, excellent. . . . Piron. ... He was 
a gay young dog. ... A hand with the ladies ..." M. Bichet 



120 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

choked and chuckled. His little queue wagged roguishly. "Your 
poetry is not in the same style as Piron's ?" Dumas admitted modestly 
that it was not. Good God, he should hope not! And now for more 
work. M. Bichet, still chuckling, explained that there was no more 
work. Until it arrived the young man could work at his tragedy. Of 
course, he had started a tragedy ? Dumas was about to say drama but 
saved himself just in time. M. Bichet waved him away. "Just like 
Piron's," he repeated in a tiny ecstasy. "I must tell my friends, Pieyre, 
the writer of comedies, and Parseval de Grandmaison, the epic poet. 
They will be delighted." Dumas heard the miniature chuckle as he 
closed the door behind him and walked slowly to his desk. He drew 
a bulky bundle of notes from his cloak and spread them before him. 
Truly, Christine was growing. Here was the speech he had recited 
to that fellow, Mery, whom he had met a day or so before in the 
Luxembourg Gardens. Mery was a writer and Mery had approved. 
Dumas picked up his gen and the office, like M. Oudard's secretarial 
department, was silent save for the scratching of quill on paper. 

He did not know how long he wrote. The peace and quiet of this 
forgotten little corner wherein M. de Broval never stepped, across 
which no officious office boys from the Due d'Orleans' private bureau 
ran with messages, where the ponderous step of that righteous watch 
dog, M. Oudard, never sounded, were like a miniature heaven. He 
was not lonely because he had his manuscript with him. Page after 
page of it covered with his fine even handwriting, carefully blotted 
with sand, lay strewn over the desk. Give him a month of this 
unbroken silence and Christine would be finished. He reached for a 
new sheet of paper and as he did so he experienced the uneasy sensa- 
tion of being watched. He lifted his head and looked up into six 
curious eyes, observing him in much the same manner that a small 
boy gapes at his first giraffe. There was a very small pair of eyes in a 
very small face. That was M. Bichet. There was a very round pair of 
eyes in a very round face. That was M. Pieyre. There was a very long 
pair of eyes in a very long face. That was M. Parseval de Grand- 
maison. Dumas knew them instinctively. They stood like Minos, 
Aeacus and Rhadamanthus. M. Bichet broke the silence first. 

"There he is!" burst forth his high thin voice. "Upon my word, his 
is just like 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 121 

"Piron's," said M. Pieyre. 

"What's-his-name's," added M. Parseval de Grandmaison. 

Dumas rose to his feet and bowed awkwardly. The tiny man, the 
round man and the long man returned his bow with old-fashioned 
aristocratic flourishes of the court of Louis XVI. 

"What did you tell me Monsieur did?" inquired M. Pieyre, turning 
to M. Bichet. 

"He writes poetry," returned M. Bichet proudly. 

"Poetry!" exclaimed M. Pieyre. 

"What-d'ye-call-it," agreed M. Parseval de Grandmaison. 

The long old man turned to the other two. 

"Do you know," he said, "a curious thing happened to me the other 
day. I forgot my own name!" 

"Not your own name!" cried M. Bichet. 

"Yes, monsieur. It was at the marriage contract of ... what's-his- 
name . . . who married the daughter of ... so-and-so ... he 
wrote a work on something-or-other . * . that was burned . . , 
Vesuvius . . . where somebody-or-other died ..." 

"Marois," ventured Dumas, "who wrote a book on Pompeii, where 
Pliny died." 

"That's it!" agreed M. Parseval de Grandmaison, smiling at the 
young man. 

Dumas observed the three old gentlemen with amazement. It was 
unbelievable. They might have stepped out of a comedy. He might 
have invented them himself. Perhaps he had, and he gazed wildly at 
the sheet of paper upon which he had been writing. They were so 
old-fashioned, so gentle, so forgetful, so easily stirred to mild tremors 
at the thought of poetry. He listened to M. Parseval de Grandmaison's 
ambling tale of how he forgot his name. He explained rather guard- 
edly the subject-matter of Christine. It would never do to flutter these 
old gentlemen with new aesthetic theories. He even recited for them 
a poem of his own called La tcyrousc. Minos, Aeacus and Rhada- 
manthus were pleased. They twiddled their thumbs, smiled, nodded 
to one another and murmured, "Just like Piron! Just like Piron!" 
Dumas felt like Ovid exiled among the Thracians when he heard the 
applause given his Tritfia. 

Fox two months he remained in the Record Office and for the 



122 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

greater part of those two months he occupied his time laboring over 
Christine, rewriting, polishing, readjusting. So much leisure during 
the day gave him an unaccustomed freedom during the evening, for 
now he did not have to confine his composition to his chamber. He 
went out into the streets, wandered about with friends to the cafes 
or called upon old acquaintances of his father or sat enthralled watch- 
ing the English players or continued his readings in Shakespeare, 
Moliere, Corneille, Calderon, Goethe and Schiller. It was a brief 
period of uninterrupted fruitfulness for him and he relished it; but 
even as he relished it he suspected that it would not last. The blow 
fell one morning when he received notice that his position was re- 
garded by the thrifty Due as a sinecure and that he should report the 
next day to the Forestry Department. The Forestry Department! 
M. Deviolaine's department! What was that about trashy plays? He 
was lost 

The Forestry Department was the reverse of the Record Office. It 
was filled with noise and bustle and more work than the perspiring 
clerks could handle. To Dumas it seemed that he had entered a 
foundry at its busiest moment from the contemplative calm of a 
chapel. He was sulky and depressed, for this change had brought 
his unfinished Christine to an abrupt halt. Regardless of consequences 
he determined to fashion a quiet nook for himself in the midst of 
this hubbub. If he could not write verses, at least he could meditate 
in peace. He had been five years in the Palais-Royal and he had 
accomplished nothing but two beggarly vaudevilles in collaboration 
with four other writers. It was a poor showing. Christine was his 
opportunity and he must make the most of it. Dumas calmly installed 
himself in the office-boy's cubicle where that young Caligula kept his 
ink bottles. The office-boy bellowed with rage. The clerks made 
pointed remarks about young Dumas's overweening sense of superi- 
ority. Dumas stuck doggedly to his tiny den. The office-boy com- 
plained to the clerks; the clerks went to the chief clerk; that individual 
went to the head of the department; the head of the department made 
some comment on presumptuousness and handed the chief clerk an 
order removing the sulking Achilles from his stolen tent. Luckily for 
Dumas M. Deviolaine was away at the time. The office-boy communi- 
cated the removal notice with a jeer, and Dumas, regarding himself 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 123 

as badgered and humiliated beyond belief, retaliated by delivering 
such a cujS against the office-boy's head that he knocked that young 
gentleman's hat out the window and half-way across the great court 
of the Palais-Royal. This was probably the first blow for freedom 
that had ever been struck in the Due d'Orleans establishment. Then, 
cramming his hat on his somewhat frizzy curls, the irate poet rushed 
home. 

Madame Dumas burst into tears at the sight of her son arriving 
flushed and excited at such an unexpected hour of the day. She re- 
called only too clearly his return from M. Lefevre's law office in 1823. 
Putting on her black jacket she hurried away to the Deviolaine home 
with the flurried intention of making whatever amends she could for 
her son. When the door closed behind her Dumas sat down in the 
empty room and endeavored to arrange his riotous thoughts. It was 
quiet there and perhaps he might write a little. There was that fifth 
act to finish. He walked over to the table and was about to open the 
drawer that contained his manuscript when Marie-Catherine entered 
with her small boy. She listened to Dumas's aggrieved tale, and 
instead of commiserating with him as he expected began to chastise 
him verbally. Marie-Catherine, when she pleased, had a lively tongue. 
It pleased her often enough now and the young couple had quarreled 
so much that they had just separated, Marie-Catherine remaining in 
the Place des Italiens and Dumas residing regularly with his mother 
in the rue de 1'Ouest Their last quarrel had been fearful. Who had 
been to blame? It is easy to settle that problem by pointing out that 
Dumas was never a family man, that he possessed no proper idea of 
fidelity or obligations, that he was naturally polygamous in tendency 
and that the girls of the boulevards were coquettishly complaisant to 
the tall young man. Dumas listened in silence to Marie-Catherine's 
excoriations, but when Alexandre fils, clutching his mother's skirt, set 
up a loud wail the infuriated young poet placed his head in his hands 
and rocked from side to side. At that moment he would have enjoyed 
strangling the future author of La Dame aux CamMias* It was all too 
impossible. Gabbling clerks and stupid officials at the Palais-Royal. 
A wailing child and a quick-tongued mother. Where was he to go 
and what was he to do? How in the name of the Forty Immortals 
was he ever to finish Christine? When he was again alone Marie- 



124 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Catnenne having exhausted herself and departed dragging the child 
behind her Dumas scribbled a note of explanation and apology to 
M. Deviolaine and despatched it to the Palais-Royal, where, it was to 
be presumed, it would be handed over to the growling official upon 
his return. Then he called on Porcher. Porcher had been his friend 
in the past and there was no reason why he should not be so in the 
future. But Porcher shied at the suggestion of advancing any money 
on an unplaced tragedy. He controlled a smile at the picture of Dumas 
invading the frowning precincts of the Theatre-Fran^ais. "Confound 
it," he said, "if it had been a vaudeville now . . . something worked 
up with Rousseau . . . but a tragedy!" He shook his head. "Get it 
received," he added, "and we shall see." Get it received! What Dumas 
desired was to get it finished. That evening he walked with a heavy 
heart down the rue de FOuest. It did not occur to him that he was at 
fault, that, after all, he was no more than an ordinary clerk in a large 
establishment where only head clerks were rewarded with private 
offices, that his brief sojourn in the calm oasis of M. Bichet's bureau 
had spoiled him, that like all creators he fondly imagined the wheels 
of business should pause and accommodate his uncertain desires. All 
that he perceived was a thwarted young writer who possessed an excel- 
lent idea and could not get on with it and live at the same time. It was 
the eternal injustice that a practical world metes out to the artist who 
would both live by it and scorn it. 

Dumas walked about for a long time, avoiding de Leuven, Soulie 
and his new friend Mery. He wanted to put his jumbled thoughts in 
order. Then he returned to his home and went to bed and stayed 
there for three days and nights. On the morning of the fourth day he 
put the finishing touches to the first draft of Christine, added the 
famous last line: 

Eh bicn> j'cn ai pitie, mon ptre . . . Qu'on I'achfae! 

which, by the way, was not to be the last line in the final acting 
version, and opened with a trembling hand a letter which his mother 
handed him and which bore the frank of the Palais-Royal 

M. Deviolaine thrust a ferocious face toward Dumas and scowled. 
He was more like a boar than ever. 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 125 

"You cursed blockhead!" he shouted, "So we are too grand a lord 
to work with ordinary mortals!" 

"That is not so," replied Dumas. "I am not a sufficiently grand lord 
to work with the others, that is why I wish to work alone.** 

M. Deviolaine laughed hoarsely and snapped his thick fingers. 

"You desire a private office in which to do nothing but write your 
dirty plays?" 

Dumas flushed but his voice was steady. He replied: 

"I ask for an office for myself so that I can have the right to think 
while I am working." 

"To think!" screamed Deviolaine. "You are not paid to think!" 

He strode up and down snorting and grumbling to himself, his 
bulky chest thrust out, his brawny arms waving. 

"If it were not for your mother," he mumbled, "Fd send you pack- 
ing, you rascal ! A private office . . . for my lord Dumas . . . very 
well . . . very well . . . you may have your private office." 

Dumas opened his eyes in glad amazement. He started to stutter 
something but M. Deviolaine broke in. 

"You shall have your full share of work. I shall oversee it person- 
ally. If you scamp anything, you puppy, off you go! Now return to 
your . . . your private office, try to make up for the three days you 
have lost and don't talk too much to the ink-bottles." 

Dumas re-entered the Forestry Department with a bland smile at 
the disconcerted clerks. He sat down in the cubicle which the office- 
boy, instinctively rubbing his ear, hastily vacated, and sharpened his 
pen and set to work. 

Ill 

M. Villenave was a fine looking old gentleman with white hair 
curling daintily about his temples. His black eyes flashed with a 
Southern fire and when he conversed his gestures were graceful and 
distinguished. He had been in Nantes during the Terror when Jean- 
Baptiste Carrier, of bloody memory, had flung his manages revolution- 
naires into the Loire, and he had written a pamphlet on these atrocities 
called Relation des noyades de cent trente-deux Nantais. Madame 
Villenave was a gracious little old lady who concealed the fact that 



126 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

she suffered from cancer. She entertained superbly and to observe her 
move about a room was a distinct pleasure. Theodore Villenave was 
a tall, energetic young man who wrote poetry. But it was not M. 
Villenave, who was a bibliophile and whose gigantic library threat- 
ened to weigh down the house at eighty-two, rue de Vaugirard, nor 
Madame Villenave, who passed the tea and cakes so prettily, nor 
Theodore Villenave, who had introduced him to this house of books, 
that Dumas's eyes followed. Seated near a bronze urn which had 
once contained the heart of Bayard and beneath a portrait of Anne 
Boleyn by Holbein was a rather thin, repressed-appearing young 
woman with black hair and an extremely dark complexion who held 
a charming small child against her slender knee. This young woman 
spoke very seldom and when she did she spoke in a low husky voice. 
An indefinable atmosphere of melancholia hovered about her. She 
was Madame Melanie Waldor, daughter of M. Villenave and wife of 
an infantry captain who was posted in garrison outside of Paris. The 
eyes of Dumas seemed chained to this woman. She was dark and 
Marie-Catherine was blonde. She was silent and Marie-Catherine was 
talkative. She was aristocratic and Marie-Catherine was distinctly of 
the people. She wrote poetry and Marie-Catherine could not even 
read with pleasure. Dumas observed this young woman who had 
come so unexpectedly into his life and his voice became husky, hesi- 
tant and uncontrollable. He was fascinated, stunned, paralyzed by an 
instantaneous infatuation. The women he had known before, Adele, 
Marie-Catherine, Mademoiselle Walker, the light loves of the evening 
boulevards, were completely erased from his mind before this aloof 
woman who sat so still beneath the Holbein canvas. She appeared 
unattainable and Dumas instantly desired her. 
, M. Villenave continued his conversation. He told the bloody story 
of Jean-Baptiste Carrier and Dumas mumbled absent-minded re- 
sponses. He showed the young man his stacks of boxes containing 
autographs, and the creator of Christine without knowing what he 
was saying, promised the old collector an autograph of Buonaparte 
containing the rare "u." Theodore Villenave recited some of his 
verses and Dumas applauded without having heard them. Madame 
Villenave passed him a cup of tea and he placed it beside him and did 
not pick it up again. Melanie Waldor sat beside the urn that had 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 127 

contained the noble heart of Bayard and said nothing but her dark 
eyes lifted once and gazed steadily at the young man who was watch- 
ing. She coughed slightly and turned away. Miles away Captain 
Waldor sat at the mess-table with his brother officers and discussed 
the Spanish Campaign. Marie-Catherine, at number one, Place des 
Italiens, was undressing Alexandre ftls and settling him in his little 
bed. It was June, 1827, By September the dark-eyed Melanie had 
given herself to Dumas. 

The four months that intervened between these dates were months 
of fury and passion for the young dramatist. This woman, six years 
older than he (she was born in 1796), aroused a Macchiavelli, a 
Mephistopheles and a Don Juan in Dumas. Melanie was cold at first 
and indignantly repudiated the frank advances of Dumas. He became 
more wily. He wrote to her every day, sometimes twice a day. He 
sought excuses to call at the Villenave house. Melanie, frightened at 
the outset by this romantic passion and yet lured by it, observed 
Dumas with a troubled eye. She was a poet and a blue stocking who 
possessed no particular affection for her garrison-minded husband, and 
the spectacle of this tall young man in his Quiroga cape, with his 
colored gilets and his decorated cane and his Byronic mannerisms 
disturbed that sang-froid which had been her armour in the Villenave 
household. She, too, dramatized herself. She preserved a resistance 
at first, but it was a short resistance. The appeal of the passionate 
young man was too much. She was lonely and he was the exhilarated 
child of his romantic era. She was literarily inclined and he was a 
poet and dramatist. He read long scenes from Christine to her and 
his burning marginal comments which accompanied the readings 
steadily weakened her attitude. He excited and thrilled her by Satanic 
posings, questionings of the existence of God, half-formulated threats 
of the Mephistophelian life he intended to follow; for that, too, like 
an aped consumption, was a part of the romantic mummery of the 
times. She suggested a Platonic relationship. Dumas laughed at the 
thought, and stalked up and down the Villenave drawing-room. The 
situation developed into a siege during which Dumas neglected his 
work, his mother, everything. As for Marie-Catherine, the mother of 
his illegitimate son, she had been swept completely out of his mind. 
She knew this and was prepared already for those long years of 



I2 8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

estrangement Dumas made irregular attempts to provide a little for 
Marie-Catherine, but the passion which had been born and which had 
died in the three little rooms at number one. Place des Italiens, was 
finished. The volatile young man, a confirmed disciple of Venus, 
sought love in other and many places. At this moment it was Melanie, 
and Melanie became a flaming desire for him. 

It is impossible to analyze this passion with any degree of exactitude. 
But it is possible to understand a part of it. Melanie Waldor was the 
first "lady" who suggested the possibility of conquest to Dumas. The 
passionate negro in him was aroused and importunate to taste the 
joys of a liaison that possessed its intellectual ardours as well as the 
spontaneous madnesses of the flesh. Was she was at work on a 
romance, L'ficuyer Daubernon? Dumas was enchanted with distin- 
guished names, with caste, with refinements all his life, and to the 
young man of 1827 Madame Melanie Waldor, daughter of the well 
known bibliophile, M. Villenave, was a prize slightly above his sta- 
tion. He was inconsistent in this for he knew himself to be the son 
of General Alexandre Dumas. At the same time he must have realized 
also that he was the country boy from Villers-Cotterets who labored 
as a simple clerk in the Due d'Orleans' establishment at the Palais- 
Royal. 

The weeks passed with the wooing of Melanie, a constant flood of 
amorous letters, melodramatic posings, and still the dark-eyed young 
woman remained adamant. Dumas decided upon a decisive step. 
Though he was almost penniless he engaged a small room, and from 
it wrote to Melanie. His letters were sly, calculated to combat her 
scruples, but still she was chary. She probably knew in her heart that 
she could not withstand these advances much longer, that a kindred 
passion had been awakened in her slender body. She protested that if 
she came to that tiny hidden room alone she would not be safe, that 
Dumas would towzle her new flounced garments. It was a weak 
protest and Dumas, scenting victory, assured her that she need only 
remove her hat, that such a protest was cruelty, but that if she insisted 
he would do no more than gaze upon her beauty. He awaited her, 
knowing that her last qualms had been satisfied in her own mind. 
And she went to him knowing that the inevitable was about to 
occur. It was during the last part of September, 1827, that Melanie 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 129 

gave herself to Dumas and embarked upon that three years' liaison 
which was to be so full of unhappinesses, scruples and jealousies for 
her and wearinesses and infidelities for him. It was impossible for 
Dumas to remain faithful to any woman for any degree of time. 
Alexandre fils, who had been born on July 27, 1824, was three years 
and two months old at this time. 

After his conquest Dumas became more dithyrambic on paper than 
ever. His self-dramatization continued to endless screeds written at all 
hours of the day and night, letters of reassurance, of love, of advice, of 
Satanic prophecies. These epistles would be interrupted by his clerical 
duties, by his revision of Christine, by hunger. Dumas always possessed 
an excellent appetite and he could interrupt a love letter with the 
utmost equanimity in order to go out and eat a fine rich meaL There 
was a little of the soul of Gargantua in him. Melanie, for her part, 
strove to slacken the ardor of this volcanic young man. Weak and 
rather anaemic, her blood ran thin and physical passion did not rouse 
her to the same degree as it did Dumas. Her lassitude provoked 
Dumas, but for the time being his desire was unabated. Melanie began 
to suffer from palpitation of the heart but Dumas remained the 
undaunted lover. She developed dyspepsia and this rather cooled his 
ardour. A dyspeptic mistress was not exactly the type one could poetize 
about. He advised her to fatten herself and threatened that as soon 
as she was plumper he would plague her to thinness again with love. 
Melanie must have heard this with a wry smile. 

As a matter of fact, she received nothing from this liaison but 
unhappiness; Dumas, on the contrary, found the substaace of one of 
his most sensational plays in it. 

Christine was finished. But what was Dumas to do with this bastard 
daughter born outside the gates of the Institute and the Academy. 
De Leuven could not help him; De Leuven's entree to the Theatre- 
Frangais was through that conservative of conservatives, M. Arnault. 
Rousseau had never aimed as high as the national theater. Soulie was 
at work himself on a Christine. It would therefore be futile to go to 
him. Lassagne possessed no acquaintances within the sacred precincts. 
Still Lassagne was an astute young man and it would do no harm to 
a$k Him. "Do you know Baron Taylor?" Dumas asked. Lassagae 



o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

ook his head. "Charles Nodier is his intimate friend," he replied. 
Veil, what of that?" "Did you not tell me a story once about sitting 
side Nodier at some performance or other?" Dumas's eyes bright- 
ed. Of course! His first night as a citizen of Paris. Lc Vampire. 
ic gentleman with Lc Pastissicr Francois. He had worn a buff 
iistcoat and whistled at the performance and been ejected. Dumas 
t down at Lassagne's desk and drew up a letter to Charles Nodier 
calling to him the young man who had sat beside him at the per- 
rmance of Lc Vampire, the conversation on Elzevirs, rotifers, vam- 
res and Nero, and begging him to introduce that young man to 
iron Taylor, royal commissioner of the Theatre-Franjais. That done 
id the letter despatched there was nothing to do but wait. Within a 
w days Dumas received a letter not from Charles Nodier but from 
iron Taylor himself making an appointment for seven o'clock in 
te morning five or six days hence. When the fateful morning arrived 
trembling Dumas, bearing a huge roll of manuscript beneath his 
:m, mounted the steps at 42, rue du Bondy, and pulled the bell-cord 
ith a shaking hand. 

Baron Taylor was sitting in his bath-tub, caught like an enraged 
ger in his den, while a persistent gentleman sat on the edge of the 
ib and read to him an interminable tragedy called Hccubc. At every 
utrageous alexandrine Baron Taylor would knock his head against 
ic side of the bath and groan. When the author of Hccubc perceived 
tie timid Dumas entering with a great roll of paper under his arm he 
lutched the tub more tightly and interrupted his reading long enough 
o say: "There are only two more acts, Monsieur, there are only two 
aore acts!" Baron Taylor lifted a desperate eye and exclaimed: "Two 
word-cuts, two stabs with a knife, two thrusts with a dagger! Select 
>ne of those arms up there; choose the one that will slice the best and 
:ill me straight off!" He indicated some martial trophies hanging on 
he wall. The persistent playwright stood upon his rights. The Gov- 
ernment had appointed Baron Taylor commissairc du roi and it was 
lis duty to listen to plays. "That is where the misfortune comes in!" 
:ried the wretched Baron Taylor. "You and such people as you will 
make me hand in my resignation. I will go to Egypt! I will explore 
tie sources of the Nile as far as Nubia! I will go to the Mountains 




MADEMOISELLE GEORGES 

The shadow of Bonaparte still hovered about her and made her -a* 
object of awed curiosity to the populace 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 131 

of the Moon!" "You can go to China if you like/* returned the unfeel- 
ing dramatist, "but not until you have heard my play." Baron Taylor 

. . . bowed his comely head 
Down as upon a bed 

and said nothing more. Dumas quietly withdrew to the next room 
and sat there waiting while the drone of the persistent playwright 
went on and on. The young man could picture the prostrate form of 
Baron Taylor in the cold bath-tub and his heart bled for him. At the 
same time he began to realize that this was not exactly the auspicious 
moment in which to inflict five more acts in couplets upon the com- 
missioner. Perhaps he had better go, creep out quietly, and come back 
another day. Even while he was meditating this the drone of the 
author of Hecube ceased, his feet sounded along the hall, the door 
closed with a bang and double-locks were hastily snapped in place. 
Baron Taylor, a bath-robe drawn tightly about his shivering form, 
entered the room and stared curiously at the young man and suspi- 
ciously at the bundle of manuscript he clutched in his hand. Dumas 
rose to his feet. 

"Perhaps," he said, "another time . , . you must be tired ..." 

Baron Taylor shook his head like a martyr when some matter-of- 
fact pagan offers to put out the flames, 

"Now that you are here," he said, "go on." 

He crawled into bed gloomily and hauled the blanket up about his 
shivering shoulders. 

"I will stop whenever it bores you," remarked Dumas unrolling his 
bundle of paper. 

A glint of amusement shone for an instant in Baron Taylor's eyes. 

"You are merciful," he murmured. 

Dumas began to read but his voice shook so with nervousness that 
He could not proceed. Baron Taylor reassured him and the young 
man, pale and perspiring, reached the end of the first act. Without 
daring to lift his eyes Dumas stuttered: "Shall I go on?" A resonant, 
"Certainly, certainly," answered him, and Dumas plunged with more 
confidence into the second act. His courage began to return, his faith 
in his play and the romantic innovations that adorned it. He swept 
through the third act, the fourth, the fifth, and then stood up in front 



132 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

of Baron Taylor and waited. He waited like a man facing a firing 
squad, his head high and his lips tightly compressed. He did not wait 
long. Baron Taylor leaped out of his bed and shouted loudly, 
"Pierre!" An old man-servant stumbled in and Baron Taylor ordered 
that his clothes be brought immediately. "You must come to the 
Theatre-Franjais with me/' he said, turning to Dumas as he pulled 
his shirt over his head. "What must I do there?" inquired the young 
man. "Why, get your turn to read your play as soon as possible," 
answered Baron Taylor. "Do you really mean it!" exclaimed Dumas. 
Baron Taylor hopped about as he invested himself with his trousers. 

The green room of the Theatre-Frangais was crowded with a large 
group of men and women. There were Mademoiselle Mars, Made- 
moiselle Leverd, Mademoiselle Bourgoin, Madame Valmonzey, Ma- 
dame Paradol and Mademoiselle Demerson, all decked out in gay hats 
and carrying bouquets, their wide skirts swishing over the green 
carpet as they swayed in like so many proud swans. The men, Baron 
Taylor, Firmin, Michelot, Joanny, Delaf osse, Marius, Dumilatre, were 
in fashionable dress, their pointed boots, gloves and sticks glittering in 
the soft light that filtered through the windows. Dumas, seated beside 
a small table upon which a silent employee had gravely placed a glass 
of water, looked about him with glazed eyes. His throat was dry and 
he was sure that he would croak when he started to read. Here they 
all were, the stars of the Theatre-Fran$ais, the most noted names in 
the dramatic world of Paris (which was to say France) observing him 
with bright and curious eyes, whispering to one another, moving 
about, settling down, waiting to vote their opinion on Christine. The 
young man did not dare to imagine what the verdict would be. He 
was not as valiant before these assembled stars as he was before 
Melanie. Baron Taylor called the Committee to order, Dumas opened 
his manuscript and began to read. 

This first version of Christine, though romantic in temperament, 
still clung to the unities. The five acts took place at Fontainebleau 
and the rules articulated by Aristotle were rigidly observed. Still, there 
was a perplexing new spirit in this play, something that puzzled the 
assembled players as they listened to its exposition. It was expressed 
by Firmin after the reading when Dumas had been sent from the 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 133 

room so that the Committee might deliberate freely without the 
embarrassment of the author's presence. Firmin came into the hall 
and exclaimed: "Our difficulty is this: we do not know whether the 
play is classic or romantic." "Never mind," replied Dumas. "Is it a 
good play or a bad one?" This did not solve the problem for the 
Committee. Dumas, from his refuge in the hall, heard the mingled 
gabble of voices and waited impatiently. Would they never end? 
What did it matter whether or not the play could be catalogued as 
classic or romantic? As a matter of fact, it was a romantic theme in 
a classical setting. Finally Dumas was called into the green room. He 
entered hesitantly and walked toward Baron Taylor who was smiling. 
The Baron explained that Christine was accepted subject to certain 
conditions. It must be read again. It must be submitted to the judg- 
ment of some acknowledged expert. All that Dumas heard was the 
word "accepted." He did not wait for the further deliberations that 
were to take place relative to this drama of his but seizing his manu- 
script and thanking Baron Taylor with French explosiveness he darted 
from the room. He ran through the streets ogling everybody he met, 
men and women alike, and barely restrained himself from rushing 
up to total strangers and exclaiming, "You haven't written Christine. 
You haven't just come away from the Theatre-Frangais. You haven't 
been received with acclamation." He stumbled across gutters, darted 
in and out among the horses that were speeding along, and rushing 
up the stairs of his home, burst into his mother's room like a bomb- 
shell. "Received with acclamation, mother! received with acclama- 
tion!" he shouted. The amazed Madame Dumas imagined her son 
had taken leave of his senses. She began to worry about his absence 
from the Palais-Royal for he had not told her he was taking the day 
off. "Also," she added, "where is your play?" Dumas thrust his hand 
into his coat pocket and withdrew it with a wild look. He had lost 
Christine. It must have slipped from his pocket when he was darting 
across gutters and dodging the horses. "No matter," he said. "I know 
the play by heart. I will sit up all night and copy it out." His mother 
sighed, "You had better hurry to the Palais-Royal," she urged. Fifteen 
hundred francs in the pocket were better than fifteen thousand in the 
imagination to her. Dumas set off for the rue Saint-Honor^ at a run 
and settled himself to his reports. He labored until six o'clock, then 



i 3 4 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

sped home and passed the night copying out a new draft of Christine. 
Thus ended that momentous day, April 30, 1828. 

The next day Dumas entered an office that had changed in appear- 
ance* Heretofore the clerks had adopted a mocking attitude toward 
the young man. His ambition had been a joke among them and his 
pre-emption of the office-boy's cubicle had not endeared him to a 
group that was, as a whole, gregarious and fond of conversing during 
the hours of work. This group had observed in the morning paper 
a notice conveying the information that the Theatre-Fran^ais had 
accepted with acclamation a five-act tragedy by a young man employed 
in the administrative offices of Monsieur le Due cTOrleans, and it clus- 
tered about the young man to felicitate him. Dumas also observed 
in the notice the unsuspected information that the aforesaid young 
man had had his way made easy for him by the Due who had strongly 
recommended him to the Reading Committee. The author of Chris- 
tine smiled a bit sourly at this falsification of facts. M. Deviolaine hid 
himself the greater part of the day but appeared long enough to heap 
some satirical scorn on Christine and prophesy that the tragedy would 
never be produced. Dumas listened with a smile. He could not be 
troubled now by the snorting of the boar-like director of his depart- 
ment. And when Firmin, the actor, appeared, M. Deviolaine disap- 
peared in a cloud of stuttering oaths. He could not conceive the 
possibility of a produced play written by the ragged urchin who had 
run about the ruined cloister of St. Remy at Villers-Cotterets. It was 
inconceivable, one of those madnesses of fortune for which there was 
no logic. 

Firmin had come to inform Dumas that M. Picard had been selected 
by the Committee as the proper judge and authority to read Christine. 
Picard enjoyed the absolute confidence of the Theatre-Francis. 
Dumas's face fell He detested M. Picard as one of those old-fashioned 
pundits who had retarded the development of real drama in France 
as much as M. Scribe had advanced vaudeville. Nevertheless he must 
go. It was a reluctant young man who went to M. Picard's house with 
his newly copied script under his arm and rang the bell. He was 
received by a little deformed man with long hands, bright, snake-like 
eyes and a nose pointed like a weasel's. M. Picard received the play in 
a grudging manner, peered sharply at Dumas and invited him to 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 135 

return in a week's time* Dumas passed a weary, endless, troubled 
week cheered only by his assignations with Melanie. He had no confi- 
dence in M. Picard and he began to fear that his first burst of enthu- 
siasm had been somewhat premature. Plays were not accepted and 
produced as easily as all that. 

The week passed and Dumas, accompanied by Firmin, again 
mounted the steps of M. Picard's house. Weasel-snout met them at 
the door, ushered them in, bade them be seated, and inquired after 
their health. He smiled and his uneven teeth proved to be yellow. 
He bent toward Dumas and said: 

"My dear monsieur, have you any means of livelihood ?" 

"I am a clerk at fifteen hundred francs a year in the establishment 
of Monsieur le Due d'Orleans," replied Dumas. What was all this 
about, anyway? 

M. Picard suddenly thrust a bundle of paper into Dumas's hands. 

"Well, then," he said, still smiling, "my advice to you, dear boy, is 
to return to your desk ... to return to your desk." 

Dumas rose like an automaton, and, clutching the manuscript of 
Christine to his breast, marched out of the house without a word, 
leaving Firmin to find out what it was all about. M. Picard, the 
modern Moliere, seemed to the young man the most repulsive creature 
he had ever met in his life. It had been the ancient situation of the 
traditionalist and the innovator. Old men who had placed themselves 
were always rude to young men who were striking out on new paths* 
There had been an emotional quiver in Christine which even its 
classical form could not quiet or disguise and this quiver had seemed 
to M. Picard the mere tawdriness of undisciplined presumptuousness. 
It was too ridiculous to discuss. All that M. Picard could do was to 
smile at this ambitious clerk and despatch him to his office. Dumas 
was shocked and dismayed. It had only been a week ago that he had 
read his play to the stellar lights of the French stage, that he had 
walked across the emerald carpet of the green room of the Theatre- 
Franjais and received the encouraging smile of Baron Taylor. And 
now, this! Well . . , he would return to Baron Taylor . . . that 
breach in the Bastille of the Theatre-Fran$ais . . . and see what 
could be done. 



136 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Baron Taylor's face was serious. He took the manuscript and re- 
quested Dumas to return on the morrow. Upon Dumas's reappearance 
the royal commissioner's face was not so serious. There was even the 
suspicion of a smile on it. He showed Dumas the first page of Chris- 
tine. Across it was written, "Upon my soul and conscience, I believe 
Christine to be one of the most remarkable works that I have read in 
twenty years. Charles Nodier." "I needed that to back me up," re- 
marked Taylor, and, while Dumas was planning a thousand notes of 
thanks to Nodier and determining to buy him all the Elzevirs in the 
world, the royal commissioner went on to explain that there must be 
another reading and that M. Samson would have the final word upon 
it. Dumas's fate was still in the balance but he walked out of Baron 
Taylor's office with a certain gaiety. M. Samson was a practical man 
and he would know the dramatic possibilities of Christine. After all, 
Dumas was writing directly for actors; his plays were "good theater" 
and it was robust action that he desired to picture on the stage of the 
Theatre-Franfais. Let M. Picard and M. Arnault and M. Lemercier 
be as stiltedly literary as they pleased; what Dumas aimed at was the 
fire of life, the movement he had sensed in the Shakespearean produc- 
tions of the English players and the naturalness of human actions 
under the stress of melodramatic passions. 

The second reading of Christine took place on a Sunday. A larger 
congregation of players than the first crowded into the green room of 
the Theatre-Franfais and a more enthusiastic reception of Christine 
than before greeted the reading. M. Samson was practical. He had 
made many notes and when he approached the young playwright he 
had some astonishing changes to suggest. M. Samson was a romantic 
at heart also, even more daring than Dumas. He calmly destroyed the 
unities, suggested changes of locale, pointed out the necessity of a new 
romantic character, and otherwise entangled the simple scheme that 
Dumas had created. At first the young playwright was indignant. 
This mangling of his child seemed horrible, but Samson possessed 
both reason and power on his side. The result was that Dumas en- 
tirely recast his tragedy. The five unified acts were rewritten into a 
prologue, two acts in Sweden, three acts in Fontainebleau and an 
epilogue. In this way the time-honored structure of the French tragedy 
was smashed to pieces. There was nothing to do after these labors, 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 137 

which seemed to Dumas like an illegal vivisection of an innocent child, 
but to turn the play in to the Theatre-Fran^ais and wait patiently for 
the first call to rehearsals. 

Meanwhile much was transpiring. Souli's Romeo ct Juliette had 
been accepted by the Odeon and was about to be produced. The two 
men had not met since that evening when Soulie had told Dumas to 
proceed with his Christine, but Souli in spite of his pride and stub- 
bornness remained cognizant of the younger man and he saw to it 
that his ambitious rival received two seats for the opening night of 
Romeo et Juliette. Soulie belonged to the new school and the opening 
night proved to be a vague tremor and prophecy of those embattled 
premieres that were to follow and culminate with the forty triumph- 
ant representations of Victor Hugo's Hernani. Very slowly the two 
armies, romanticists and traditionalists, were arranging their forces 
and preparing for slaughter. Dumas thought Souli's Rom6o et 
Juliette dull but that was because he had already witnessed several 
performances of this tragedy by the English players. What he called 
Soulie's "excessive good taste" in improving Shakespeare jarred his 
romantic sensibilities. The general public, however, liked the play 
well enough. Its romantic tendencies had been sufficiently classicised 
to ease the shock the traditionalists rather expected. Though the 
battle-lines were forming the real bomb was yet to be exploded, and 
the young man who was to concoct that bomb had not even discovered 
his subject. The road from the vivisection of Christine, however, was 
to lead straight to Henri III et sa cour. 

Christine, for her part, began to experience unsuspected obstacles 
at the Theatre-Fran^ais. The casual and abrupt judgment of the 
weasel-snouted M. Picard had injected a sly poison into the first and 
unthinking enthusiasm of the players. Mademoiselle Mars cooled 
decidedly in her study of the tide role. She was a head-strong, con- 
ceited favorite who had triumphed in the leading parts of Racine and 
she announced that Christine was beneath her powers. What was 
Dumas to do with a temperamental creature who flung her dressing- 
room window open after he left and exclaimed, "Faugh! He stinks 
like a negro!" Firmin, an excellent actor, who had been cast for 
Monaldeschi, experienced a growing uneasiness over the part. Ligicr, 
who was to play Sentinelli, withdrew from the Th^itre-Franjais and 



138 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

went to the Odeon. The truth was that these players trained to a 
tradition were afraid to venture too far from that tradition. The 
crown which had seemed just within the grasp of Dumas steadily 
removed itself from his eager reach. He ran about arguing, pacifying, 
compromising. His activities were of no avail. There was too much 
adverse influence directed against Christine. This innovation, compro- 
mising with the old tradition as it did, frightened the mimes, who 
were at best the animated puppets of fashion, and disturbed the direc- 
tors, who had yet to emancipate themselves from the traditionalist 
influence. The Bastille still held firm and although Ange Pitou had 
penetrated to the outer courts he had still to destroy the oubliettes. 
The instant was not quite ripe for the thunderclap of romanticism. 

A thunderclap did sound, however, for Dumas. He heard that a 
second Christine, the work of a former prefect named Brault, had 
been offered to the Theatre-Fran^ais. M. Brault desired that the tide 
role be played by Madame Valmonzey; Madame Valmonzey was the 
mistress of M. Evariste Dumoulin; M. Evariste Dumoulin was the 
editor-in-chief of Le Constitutionnel; Le Constitutionnel was one of 
the most powerful journals in Paris. The inferences are plain enough. 
M. fivariste Dumoulin intimated that he would ruin the Theatre-Fran- 
ais by means of Le Constitutionnel unless M. Brault's Christine was 
produced before M. Dumas's play. The directors were in a high state 
of fear and excitement at this intimation. They cowered before the 
imposing figure of M. Evariste Dumoulin, and Madame Valmonzey 
walked about the theatre with an anticipatory smile upon her plump 
features. A feeling of despair settled upon Dumas, who found him- 
self helpless in the face of all this intrigue. When the directors ap- 
proached him and explained that M. Brault was suffering from an 
incurable disease and that his one hope in life was to see his Christine 
produced before he died the young man flung up his arms in aban- 
donment. M. Brault's son came to Dumas and expatiated upon the 
fatal illness of his father. If M. Dumas needed a loan . . . The Due 
de Decazes, a personal friend of M. Brault's, also came to the young 
man. The wishes of a dying man. . . If M. Dumas needed any money. 
. . . Dumas, with a sigh, signed a release of its obligation for the 
Th^atre-Franjais. His mythical crown had disappeared in a dark and 



THE BAPTISM OF A MAN 139 

forbidding cloud. M. Brault's Christine was announced for imme- 
diate production. 

Melanic who continued to suffer from dyspepsia heard the story of 
Dumas* first skirmish and defeat with the Theitre-Fran^ais with min- 
gled emotions. She desired the success of the young man, but, from 
various unguarded remarks of Dumas*, she had gathered that there 
was an unpleasantly large group of handsome women at the national 
institution. Several of these women had cast melting eyes upon the 
tall, young playwright, and Dumas, strutting like a turkey-cock before 
this admiration, had responded quickly and eagerly* A small demon 
of jealousy crept into Melanie's mind and disturbed her days. Recrimi- 
nations began to creep into her speech. Dumas, tired of her eternal 
dyspepsia and neurotic tendencies, decided that his grande passion 
had about run its course. Still, it was too soon to break off relations. 
There was still a charm, diminished to be sure, in this liaison with the 
sickly poetess. Then too, there were the moments of passion when 
Melanie, with all the fierce ardour of a diseased woman, clung to him 
and whispered words of delirious love into his ear. The delight of 
conquest was strong in the young man and he responded with his 
usual self-dramatization. Between love and clerical duties he passed 
some few weeks seeking vaguely for a new subject that might make 
a play. 

Soulie met him one day on the street and stopped him. There was 
a smile on the older man's face. 

"Congratulate me," he said. 

"What for?" asked Dumas. "For Romto ct Juliette? Frederic, I 
thought it dull" 

"No, no," answered Soulie. "I have finished my Christine." 

"Yes?" said Dumas. 

"It has been accepted by the Odeon," proceeded Souli. 

"Yes?" said Dumas. 

"Mademoiselle Georges and Ligier arc to play the leading parts." 

"Yes?" said Dumas. 



CHAPTER SIX 

TAKING THE BASTILLE 



Near the Quai des Celestins and overlooking the river was an 
ancient gloomy-looking edifice called the Arsenal. It was here that 
Francois I had the cannon cast which did such deadly work at Pavia. 
Partly demolished during the reign of Henri II, by a tremendous ex- 
plosion of the gunpowder stored in it, this building was reared anew 
by Charles IX and finished by the nasal-voiced Henri IV. Henri gave 
it to his minister of finance, Sully. In the course of time it became a 
library, and the beautiful rooms once decorated by the parsimonious 
Sully with Henri IV's money were crowded with endless shelves of 
rare and curious tomes. One entered the Arsenal by an ugly door, 
mounted a flight of steps with massive balustrades, came to a badly 
fitting portal on the left, walked down a bricked corridor and entered 
the apartment of the librarian, Charles Nodier. It was a journey 
Dumas often took now, for ever since Nodier had aided him with 
the unfortunate Christine the Arsenal had been flung open to the 
young man. It was a finishing school for him, a post-graduate course 
in literary Paris. Here during a period of several years he met most 
of the younger writers of the day and a number of the older figures. 
There was laughter, song, conversation, dancing. Above all there was 
Charles Nodier himself, learned, kindly, sprightly-minded and bub- 
bling with paradoxes. Nodier, his wife and daughter were charmed 
from the first by Dumas and within a short space of time the tall 
young man was an accepted member of the lively household. He 
found there an agreeable and animated domesticity he had never 
known in his own life, a laughing suaveness, a mellowed sophistica- 
tion, an atmosphere sparking with cultured argument and aesthetic 

140 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 141 

formulations. What a relief it was from the injustice and intrigues of 
the Theatre-Fran^ais, the jealous reproaches of Melanie, the stupid 
routine of the Palais-Royal, and the empty laughter of the cafes. Here 
Dumas could be himself, could expand, could catch the ball of con- 
versation and juggle it back and forth with other writers. 

Nodier was an ideal host His friends, once he had accepted them, 
might dine with him as often as they liked. At six o'clock the table 
was laid for the regulars with always two or three extra plates put out 
for chance comers. The habitues were Gailleux, the director of the 
Musee; Baron Taylor, already meditating his relinquishment of the 
onerous post of Royal Commissioner of the Theatre-Frangais and a 
journey into Egypt; Francis Wey and Dauzats. The casual diners 
were Bixio, Saint- Valery and Dumas. Dinner was simple, for Nodier 
had simple taste. When it was over he would loll back in his chair and 
sip his Mocha (for he did not approve of rising from table to drink 
:offee in a half-warmed salon) and inhale his liqueur. Madame 
Nodier, Marie and Dumas, who took neither coffee nor liqueurs, 
would vanish into the salon and light the lustres and candalabras. 
Five minutes after the room was lighted and the gentle glow of the 
:andles was reflected in the creamy walls Baron Taylor and Cailleux 
would amble in and sink into the plush warmth of the sofa. Then 
would come Nodier, his arm interlaced in that of Bixio or Wey or 
Dauzats, for he was like a tall climbing plant that needed something 
to lean upon. Ten minutes later the usual callers began to arrive, their 
:eet clicking in the brick corridor as they hurried to the salon. There 
tvere Alfred and Tony Johannot, both of whom were to die young 
md who already had the melancholy look of the grave jupon their 
mpassive faces. Tony always brought a fresh drawing or engraving 
to enrich Marie Nodier's album. There was Fontancy who also 
seemed to have a vague presentiment of death. There was Alfred de 
V^igny, not yet transfigured in his own mind and still deigning to mix 
tfith mortals. There was Barye the sculptor, who appeared to walk 
n a dream listening to far-away voices. There was Louis Boulanger, 
te artist, changeable as an April day, now sad, now roaring with 
aughter. There was Francisque Michel, a seeker of old manuscripts, 
;o forgetful that he would arrive occasionally in an old hat of the 
period of Louis XIII and yellow slippers. There was Alfred de Mus- 



142 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

set, just beyond the state of boyhood and dreaming his Contcs 
d'Espagne et d'ltalie. There was Victor Hugo, a stocky youth with a 
noble forehead and already a celebrity. There was Lamartine, re- 
strained and grave in demeanor. 

Sometimes Charles Nodier would draw up his tall, lean body be- 
side the chimney-piece, stretch out his thin arms ending in white 
tapering hands and start to tell a story. It did not matter what the 
tale might be, an imaginary narrative of love, a skirmish on the plains 
of La Vendee, some drama of the Place de la Revolution, a conspiracy 
of Georges Cadoudal or Oudet, the result would always be the same. 
From his lips would issue such engaging description that his attentive 
audience would hold its breath that it might hear the better. Belated 
guests who entered while Nodier was in the midst of a story would 
slide quietly into chairs or lean against the wainscoting. These stories 
would always end too soon. Nodier would seat himself in his arm- 
chair, and indicating Victor Hugo or Lamartine, murmur: "Enough 
of prose. Let us have poetry." And one or the other man indicated 
would rise without a second bidding and recite some recent composi- 
tion. Dumas was enchanted. As he listened to the delightful stories 
of Nodier or the odes of Lamartine and Victor Hugo or the argu- 
ments of the assembled artists and writers he seemed to be existing 
in a sort of Paradise guarded from the brawling world of Paris by 
the thick forbidding walls of the Arsenal. 

When ten o'clock struck Marie Nodier would seat herself before her 
piano and stir the instrument to a ripple of notes. Arm-chairs were 
scraped back against the wall, and non-dancers with a penchant for 
card playing would hasten into the alcoves. Nodier, who did not 
dance but liked cards, would disappear into some corner. After he 
had played bataillc or cart& for a short time he vanished entirely. In 
other words, he betook himself to bed and permitted the party to pro- 
ceed without him. It was the duty of Madame Nodier to put this 
great child to bed. She would leave first and if it were winter or the 
kitchen fire had extinguished itself she might be seen presently thread- 
ing the dancers with a huge warming-pan which she would fill at 
the fireplace. Nodier followed the warming-pan as a cat follows a 
saucer of milk and was seen no more. Meanwhile the dancing would 
continue to the accompaniment of Marie Nodier who, unlike her 







V N * 

\ v 



VICTOR HUGO 

The Sun-God, in spite of his jealousy, remained a good 
friend to JDum^s 




ALFRED DE VIGNY 

He was one of the Romantic trmmplmate with Dnmas and Hugo 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 143 

father, was not given to retiring at early hours. Dumas, whose dancing 
had improved since those far-off days when he had burst his trousers 
leaping the Haha, was one of the popular figures during this lighter 
side of the evening. His spontaneous wit and freshness also made him 
a favorite* He could say to Saint-Valery, who was extremely tall and 
very sensitive about his height, when that individual complained of a 
cold in the head, "Didn't you have cold feet a year ago?" 

It is impossible to estimate how much these evenings brought to 
Dumas but it is obvious that they contributed materially to his future. 
He met men there who were to be of service to him in later years, 
and any rough surfaces that five years of Paris had not smoothed away 
were eradicated by the politcssc of the Nodier household. A great 
amount of information was sifted into his quick mind. Books and 
literary movements and theories were made plain for him. The con- 
versation of writers about his own age, such as Victor Hugo, must 
have been important to him. The Arsenal, then, as has been said, was 
a finishing school for him, a place where he might orientate himself 
squarely in the fluctuating and perplexing literary world of the day. 
Ajid when, after one o'clock in the morning, he came forth from the 
Arsenal and crossed the moonlit and deserted expanse of the Ile-Saint- 
Louis, threading his way among houses and along streets that ante- 
dated the Revolution, his head must have been full of a jumble of 
things, Nodier's satiric mouth, the pretty little feet of Madame Nodier, 
the white hands of Marie Nodier, the high, sweet sounds of an old 
piano, the emphatic tones so like bugle-cries of the square-browed 
Victor Hugo, the grave political opinions of Lamartine who was both 
statesman and poet, the wistful voice of young de Musset who talked 
of the joys of Italy and Spain and the smiling lips of Mimi Pinson, 
the strange tones of the long, fair-haired de Vigny, who, perhaps, was 
already moved to tears at the thought of Chatterton, the shrill laughter 
of Boulangcr and the booming echo of Baryc, the suppressed coughs 
of the Johannots, the pictures, the ancient folios with the arms of the 
kings of France upon them, the soft firelight before which the danc- 
ing figures moved, and the gentle glow of many candles in high silver 
candalabras upon the creamy whiteness of the panelled walls and the 
Louis XV mouldings. 



144 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

AnquetiPs Esprit de la Liguc lay open on the accountant's desk 
and Dumas, still exhilarated by the last evening's conversation at the 
Arsenal, glanced at the page as he fumbled for some extra copying 
paper. He read mechanically: 

Although attached to the king, and by rank an enemy of the Due 
de Guise, Saint-Megrin was none the less in love with the duchess, 
Catherine de Cleves, and it was said that she returned his love. The 
author of this anecdote gives us to understand that the husband 
was indifferent on the subject of his wife's actual or supposed infi- 
delity. He opposed the entreaties of his relations that he should 
avenge himself, and only punished the indiscretion or the crime of 
the duchess by a joke. One day he entered her room early in the 
morning, holding a potion in one hand and a dagger in the other; 
after rudely awaking his wife and reproaching her, he said in tones 
of fury: 

"Decide, madame, whether to die by dagger or poison!" 
In vain did she ask his forgiveness; he compelled her to make her 
choice. She drank the concoction and flung herself on her knees, 
recommending her soul to God and expecting nothing short of 
death. She spent an hour in fear; and then the due came back with 
a serene countenance, and told her that what she had taken for 
poison was an excellent soup. Doubtless this lesson made her more 
circumspect afterwards. 

"What's this?" murmured Dumas and read through the page again, 
this time with more attention. He returned to his cubicle with a 
brooding expression on his face, and that evening when he called at 
M. Villenave's house to see Mlanic he ignored his somewhat impa- 
tient mistress and engaged in a long historical conversation with the 
old bibliophile. The Biographic univcrsclle was referred to. M. Vil- 
lenave rummaged among his folios and drew forth the MJmoires dc 
I'Estoile. In the first volume of 1'Estoile Dumas discovered this pas- 
sage: 

Saint-M^grin, a young gentleman of Bordeaux, handsome, 
wealthy, and good-hearted, was one of the curled darlings kept by 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 145 

the king. One night when coming away, at eleven o'clock, from the 
Louvre, where the King was, in the rue du Louvre, near the rue 
Saint-Honore, he was set upon by some twenty to thirty unknown 
men, with pistols, swords and cutlasses, who left him on the pave- 
ment for dead; he died, indeed, the next day, and it was a wonder 
how he could have lived so long, for he had received thirty-four 
or thirty-five mortal wounds. The king ordered his dead body to 
be carried to Boisy, near the Bastille, where Quelus, his companion, 
had died, and buried at Saint-Paul with as much pomp and solem- 
nity as his companions Maugiron and Quelus had been buried 
before him. No inquiries were made concerning the assassination, 
His Majesty having been warned that it had been done through 
the instrumentality of the Due de Guise, because of the reports of 
intimacy between the young mignon and the due's wife, and that 
the blow had been dealt by one who bore the beard and features 
of his brother the Due du Maine. When the King of Navarre 
heard the news, he said: 

"I am glad to hear that my cousin the Due de Guise has not 
suffered himself to be cuckolded by a mignon de couchette such 
as Saint-Mgrin; I wish all tke other gilded youths about court 
who hang round the princesses ogling them and making love to 
them could receive the same treatment." 

Further along in this same volume Dumas discovered another 
passage which he read most attentively. 

On Wednesday, 19 August, Bussy d'Amboise, first gendeman- 
in-waiting of M. le Due, Governor of Anjou, Abb de Bourgueil, 
who assumed very high and mighty airs, because of the partiality 
of his master, and who had done all kinds of evil deeds and robbed 
the countries of Anjou and Maine, was slain by the Seigneur de 
Monsoreau, together with the wicked lieutenant of Saumur, in a 
house belonging to the said Seigneur de Monsoreau, where, at 
night, the said lieutenant, who was his love messenger, had brought 
him to sleep that night with the wife of the said Monsoreau, to 
whom Bussy had for a long time made love; with whom the said 
lady had purposely made this false assignation in order to have 



146 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

him surprised by her husband, Monsoreau; when he appeared 
towards midnight, he was immediately surrounded and attacked 
by ten or a dozen men who accompanied the Seigneur de Mon- 
soreau, and who rushed upon him in a fury to massacre him: this 
gentleman, seeing himself so contemptibly betrayed, and that he 
was alone (as on such expeditions people usually prefer to be) did 
not, however, cease to defend himself to the last, proving, as he 
had often said, that fear had never found room in his heart, for 
so long as an inch of sword remained in his hand, he fought on 
till only the handle was left him, and then made use of tables, 
forms, chairs, stools, with which he disabled three or four of his 
enemies, until, overpowered by numbers and bereft of all arms 
and means of defending himself, he was beaten down, close to a 
window, from which he had tried to fling himself in the hope of 
escape. Such was the end of Captain Bussy. . . . 

Dumas looked up. 

"Here is my next drama," he said. 

M. Villenave lumbered about searching for books that related to 
the period and brought the young man the Confession dc Sancy and 
the lie des Hermaphrodites. He referred Dumas to the recently pub- 
lished Scenes Historiques of Vitet. The young man, laden down 
with heavy tomes, proceeded home. He sat up most of the night 
reading these volumes, searching for dramatic situations, recalling 
his five years' immersion in Scott and Schiller and Lope de Vega, 
and building up a romantic scaffolding of action. Before the dawn 
crept over the huddled roofs of Paris he had conceived the first out- 
line of Henri III et sa Cour, the drama that was to be the first actual 
bombshell of the romantics. 

Once he had conceived his subject Dumas wrote with surprising 
rapidity. Two months after the plot of Henri 111 et sa Cour had 
crystallized in his mind he was adding the finishing touches to the 
manuscript. He had profited from the rewriting of Christine to 
such an extent that he now knew exactly what he was about before 
he put pen to paper. Henri III et sa Cour was thrilling and romantic; 
it was written in prose instead of verse; it moved through a series of 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 147 

acts each culminating in a higher degree of climax that the preceding. 
When the play was finished the young author was in a much better 
position to place it than he had been with Christine. He possessed 
influential friends. There were M. Villenave and his household. 
There was above all the Arsenal and all its important figures, includ- 
ing Baron Taylor. First of all Dumas read Henri III et sa Cour to 
the Villenave family. Melanie was thrilled by it but M. Villenave, 
old-fashioned and brought up on Baour-Lormian and his school, 
was shocked by the romantic emphasis which he considered a mon- 
strous aberration. Dumas smiled at this and revised not a single line 
of his play. He was through with the pedantries of the older men, 
fully enlisted in that embattled group of younger men that circled 
about Victor Hugo, determined to follow a path that seemed pre- 
destined. Already the formidable murmur of those younger men 
echoed through the cafes and studios of Paris. The hour of attack 
had arrived and the romanticists were merely marking time for the 
proper excuse. New journals had sprung up, journals like Figaro 
and Sylphe which were calculated to combat the grumbling con- 
servatism of the Constitutional, the Journal de Paris, the Courrier 
jrangais and the Journal des DSbats. These papers were edited by 
Nestor Roqueplan, Alphonse Royer, Louis Desnoyers, Alphonsc 
Karr and a dozen other fearless champions of the Romantic Move- 
ment. Dumas knew which way the wind was blowing. He was no 
longer ignorant. He understood the importance of a valiant and 
importunate army of disciples behind one's efforts. He decided to 
enlist these younger men. 

Nestor Roqueplan possessed a studio. It was quite unlike that 
suite of apartments at the Opera which he was to have years later, 
a suite ornamented by Boule and with corner-stones from Coromandel. 
The studio of 1828 was a small room on the fifth floor with a chimney- 
piece ornamented with a wash-basin instead of a clock and with a 
brace of duelling pistols instead of candlesticks. Here one evening 
a score of people assembled to Dumas's call. They were not Carbonari 
but Romanticists. They were not conspirators but the commanding 
officers of a campaign that was to be fought, a campaign that rivalled 
in importance any of the campaigns of Napoleon. The children born 
beneath the suns of Austerlitz had taken the sword into their hands. 



i 4 8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Among this group were Roqueplan, the Murat of the movement, 
Royer, Desnoyers, Karr, Vaillant and DorvaL Firmin, from the 
Theatre-Francis, was there, and so, too, was Dumas's old friend, 
Lassagne, who now saw his prophecy coming true. These men 
hauled the mattresses from the bed to form divans and transformed 
the bed itself into a sofa. Before them stood Dumas by a small table 
lighted by candles. A kettle bubbled on the fire so that tea might 
be served between each act. Henri 111 et sa Cour was about to be 
revealed for the first time. He began to read in a steady voice. 

Henri 111 et sa Cour enjoyed its first triumph that evening. The 
auditors were enthusiastic and with one accord they bade the young 
playwright set aside any plans he might have for the production of 
Christine and concentrate on this drama. Firmin, his eyes glistening 
at the opportunity which the part of Saint-Megrin would afford him, 
offered to hurry forward a reading at the Theatre-Fran^ais. Lassagne 
cried: "You were only half right in Christine, you are altogether 
right in Henri III" Some of the young men began to repeat the 
sounding oaths from the play. "Tfoe-Dieu!" "Mille damnations!" 
"Par la mort-Dieu!" "Vive-Dieul" Many feet trampled down the 
long flights of stairs from Nestor Roqueplan's studio, capes were 
flung about swaggering shoulders and the Romantics were off to 
tell their less fortunate friends in the cafes the news of the stirring 
play. The gloomy facade of the Theatre-Franjais stared across at 
the Caf de la Regence blindly. How were those brown-yellow walls 
ornamented with the stony faces of Racine and Corneille to under- 
stand that they were to be breached, that a shouting mob of young 
men were to rush through them, that Henri III et sa Cour was to 
be the Valmy of the literary revolution fought between them, that 
de Vigny's Othello was to follow up and consolidate this victory, 
and that Victor Hugo's Hernani was to be the Jcmappes that carried 
the revolution well on the way to victory? The walls of the Theatre- 
Fran^ais were as deaf and blind and senseless as the walls of the 
Bastille and could not hear those strange oaths at its portal. "Tfre- 
Dieul" "Vive-Dicul" "Par la mort-Dieul" 

Firmin, true to his word, secured an early reading of Henri 111 et 
sa Cour and on September 15, 1828, Dumas found himself for a third 
time on the cmcrald-hued carpet of the greenroom of the Th&itrc- 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 149 

Franfais and declaiming from his own manuscript. There was no 
Picard of the weasel snout there. Instead, there was Beranger, the 
great Beranger whose chansons had made him the idol of the Parisian 
populace, the man of whom Benjamin Constant had said, "Good 
old Beranger! He thinks he is writing chansons and really he is 
composing odes!" Beranger was at the peak of his fame in 1828. He 
was hailed as the greatest poet of the age. Vieux drapeau, Dieu des 
bonnes gens and Grand'mfre were sung by thousands. Dumas did 
not fear Beranger, for he had faith in the fiery socialism of the man, 
a socialism that expressed itself in political chansons that were like 
so many blows of a pickaxe undermining the foundations of a throne, 
and though Beranger might not see eye to eye with the Romanticists 
(he was too old for that) the young playwright was sure that the 
classicists possessed no hold on the old lion. And there was Baron 
Taylor, one of Dumas's companions during the evenings at the 
Arsenal and ready to back the young man to the limit. There were 
Samson, whose romantic tendencies had expressed themselves in the 
revision of Christine, and Firmin, who was eager for the part of 
Saint-Megrin. Mademoiselle Mars was present and Mademoiselle 
Mars was as temperamental as ever; but the part of the Duchesse de 
Guise made her open her histrionic eyes very wide, indeed. Made- 
moiselle Leverd and M. Michelot were also present. And seated in a 
corner in her simple black dress and appearing slightly ill at ease 
was Madame Dumas. The reading proved to be a great success. 
Beranger, a trifle lost in the unexpected technique at first, found 
himself before the play was over and prophesied that it would be 
a vast triumph. The five comedians of the The^tre-Franpus were 
enchanted. Each one of them saw a magnificent part in the play, 
Saint-Megrin for Firmin, the Duchesse de Guise for Mademoiselle 
Mars, Henri III for Michelot, the Vicomte de Joyeuse for Samson 
and Catherine de Medicis for Mademoiselle Leverd. A contagious 
enthusiasm seized this group of listeners. Two days later, on the 
seventeenth, the play was read before the formal committee and 
received with acclamations. That evening everything was settled 
at once, contracts were signed, roles distributed, and the misc-cn- 
sctnc outlined and applied for to the Administration. During the 
committee reading Dumas noticed a pretty young actress with bright 



I5 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

eyes named Louise Despreaux and he went to his assignation with 
Melanie in a rather thoughtful manner. 

M. de Broval lifted his long red nose from the sheet of paper and 
stared solemnly at Dumas. He cleared his throat. He explained that 
literature and clerical work were incompatible, that Dumas was 
oftener out of the Palais-Royal than in it, that when he was in it 
he was being continually interrupted by actors and messengers from 
the Theatre-Francis, that M. Deviolaine could not and would not 
have his Forestry Department so upset, and that M. Dumas, therefore, 
must immediately make his choice between the two incompatible 
occupations. Dumas immediately made his choice and when he 
returned to his department he was informed that he might occupy 
his time in any way he saw fit as his salary was suspended from that 
day. Dumas put on his hat and walked out of the Palais-Royal heed- 
less of the muttered remarks of the clerks. It was as easy as this. For 
six years he had kept his nose to the grindstone and received nothing 
for his pains. Now all he had to do was to say three words to M. de 
Broval, put on his hat and walk out. A curious feeling of freedom 
coursed through his veins as he walked along the rue Saint-Honore, 
At the same time an ominous nervousness settled upon him. There 
would be no rouleaux of francs at the end of the month. What would 
his mother say ? She was so thin and worried now and her heart beat 
so rapidly at the least excitement. He would have to do something 
to tide over the weeks of rehearsals. Well, there was Beranger. 
Beranger had been surprisingly agreeable to him at the reading of 
Henri III et sa Cour and Beranger was the personal friend of the 
great banker, M. Laffitte. M. Laffitte sometimes , . . There would 
be no harm in trying. 

Dumas turned in at the Theatre-Fran^ais and told his trouble to 
Firmin. Firmin recalled that M. Laffitte had once helped Theaulon 
when that classic playwright was in a fix. The actor accompanied 
Dumas to Beranger's house. Beranger took the two men to the man- 
sion of M. Laffitte. M. Laffitte listened. His manner was cold. He 
was not interested in the Romantic Movement. Branger intimated 
that the play would make a financial success. M. Laf&tte listened to 
this more closely. He was interested in finance. The outcome was 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 151 

that M. Laffitte advanced Dumas three thousand francs after the 
young dramatist had signed a promissory note and deposited a copy 
of Henri III ct sa Cour with the banker's cashier as security. "Nothing 
for nothing and something for something*' was M. Laffitte's motto. 
Dumas shook hands with M. Laffitte who withdrew his hand hastily 
and with Beranger who held his hand longer. Then he ran home. 

Bad news travels on the wings of the wind and it reached Madame 
Dumas before her son. When he burst into the house she was in a 
state of extreme despair. This time, she thought, her son had settled 
himself for good. He had lost his position and he had no funds* It 
was well enough to write plays but where was the certainty about 
plays? La Chasse ct I' Amour and La Noce ft I'Entcrrcmcnt had 
made a few hundred francs, but those windfalls had been dissipated 
in a few months. What would Alexandre do when the few hundred 
francs from Henri 111 ct sa Cour had gone the way of the wind? 
Would he creep back to the Palais-Royal and attempt to ingratiate 
himself with M. de Broval, M. Deviolaine and M. Oudard ? At that 
moment her son burst in and placed three one-thousand franc notes, 
two years' salary, in her lap. In the evening Dumas called at the 
Villenave household and explained his break with the Palais-Royal* 
M. Villenave, a conservative old gentleman, disapproved, but Theo- 
dore agreed that Dumas was right. As for Melanie, she said very 
little and continued to brood. When Dumas rose to leave she accom- 
panied him to the door. "Are you interested in that little ingenue, 
Louise Despreaux?" she inquired. Dumas hastily disclaimed any 
interest in Mademoiselle Despreaux. He was right. He had already 
noticed another young actress cast for the slight part of Marie in 
Henri 111 ct sa Cour. Her name was Virginic Bourbier and she had 
blue eyes. 

The opening of 1829 was a period of excitement for Dumas and 
one of repressed passion for Paris. Charles X was showing his teeth. 
A fortnight after Beranger had aided Dumas so materially, the revo- 
lutionary-minded composer of chansons was sentenced to nine months' 
imprisonment for writing the Angc Gardien, the Gfrontocratie and 
the Sacre dc Charles le Simple. M. Viennet, one of the conservatives 
and a writer of turgid epic poems, visited Beranger in prison. "Well, 



152 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

noble songster," he remarked, "how many chansons have you com- 
posed under lock and key?" Beranger looked at him. "Not one," 
he replied, "Do you suppose chansons are written as easily as epic 
poems?" The victim of this retort was the M. Viennet who once 
burst into the Arsenal with the proud statement: "Listen, dear friends; 
I have just finished an epic of thirty thousand lines! What do you 
think of that?" "Think?" answered one of the young men present. 
"Why, I think it will take fifteen thousand men to read it!" A little 
more than a year later the autocratic government which had impris- 
oned Beranger and a dozen others, suppressed free opinion with an 
iron hand and done its utmost to return France to the status of an 
absolute monarchy was driven from office and Charles X had fled 
across the border. While Henri 111 ct sa Cour was in rehearsal Paris 
was muttering savagely to herself and preparing la chute for the 
King. At the same time the news of the impending production of 
a romantic drama in prose at the Theatre Fran$ais, where heretofore 
the most daring experiments had been the timid and tentative pres- 
entations of such plays as Lemercier's Jane Shore, Mely-Janin's Louis 
XI h Peronne, and Lebrun's Lc Cid d'Andalousie, created a great deal 
of excitement. Frequent items appeared in the press; camps were 
being formed of antagonists and protagonists; the Censor withheld 
his decision. As for the rehearsals of Henri III et sa Cour, they 
progressed to the usual temperamental upsets of Mademoiselle Mars. 
She desired Armand to play Henri III instead of Michelot. She 
insisted that Madame Menjaud be cast for the page Arthur in place 
of Louise Despreaux. Dumas maintained his own decisions and forced 
out both Armand and Madame Menjaud. He attended rehearsals 
assiduously ("Because of Virginie Bourbier," remarked Mademoiselle 
Mars contemptuously), aided in the direction, revised, and in short, 
adapted himself immediately to the practicalities of the stage. Dumas's 
sense of the theater was inborn and he was as much play-doctor and 
director as he was creator. As for Virginie Bourbier her blue eyes 
proved so pleasant that Dumas, with that superb tactlessness with 
women that probably enchanted as much as it displeased them, told 
Mlanie all about her. Poor Melanie, her head whirling with Louise 
Despreaux, Virginie Bourbier, even Mademoiselle Mars, grew more 
and more jealous and dyspeptic. 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 153 

The Censor, in spite of scandalizing items in the press relative to 
the indecency of introducing mignons on the stage of the Theatre- 
Fran^ais, finally gave his consent to the production and the premiere 
was definitely set for Saturday evening, February n, 1829. 

Three days before the opening night, while Dumas was super- 
vising the ensemble and costumes, he was interrupted by one of 
M. Deviolaine's servants who rushed into the theatre with the news 
that Madame Dumas while calling on Madame Deviolaine had been 
taken with a frightful seizure and was lying apparently lifeless in 
the Deviolaine home. A wild-eyed young man ran the short distance 
from the Theatre-Frangais to the corner of the rue Saint-Honore and 
the rue de Richelieu where M. Deviolaine resided. Madame Dumas, 
who had fallen in a senseless heap on the stairs as she was leaving, 
was now placed in a great arm-chair and she was slowly regaining 
consciousness, although she could hardly speak. One side of her 
body was paralyzed. Dumas felt his mother's pulse, pinched her to 
discover the extent of the paralysis, ordered mustard and hot water 
for her, and sent for a doctor. While he waited for the doctor he 
learned that the Deviolaine family had been impressing on Madame 
Dumas what a wilful blockhead her son was, how sure it was that 
his play would be a failure, and how impossible it would be for him 
ever to repay his loan to M. Laffitte. The young man dashed the 
hot tears from his eyes and said nothing. There was nothing he 
could say. Contemptuous ridicule and evil prophecy had been his 
portion since he was old enough to have ambitions. The doctor 
arrived and so, too Aimee-Alexandrine, who had come from Paris to 
witness the premiere of her brother's drama. A room was secured 
for Madame Dumas on the third floor of the Deviolaine home and 
the stricken woman was put to bed there. Dumas, torn between the 
duties of rehearsing his play and ministering to his mother, passed 
through three terrible days. When he was not at his mother's bed- 
side he was urging on reluctant actors whose courage in the face 
of newspaper attacks was already oozing out at their buskins. Decid- 
edly things were going wrong on all sides, A mother who might 
be dying, a play that was so remarkable an innovation as to arouse 
grave doubts of its success, a salaried position that had suddenly 



154 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

ceased to exist, and the mingled ridicule and ominous prophecies of 
a group of people this was the situation that Dumas had to face. 

Thursday passed to strenuous work and trembling grief. Melanie 
who had missed Dumas, came to his house in search of him. Her 
reproaches, somewhat quieted by the young man's anxiety over his 
mother, did not tend to lighten him. Friday dawned, the day before 
the premiere, and news of antagonistic claques permeated the atmos- 
phere. Dumas suddenly decided to take a desperate chance. 

That evening he presented himself at the Palais-Royal and boldly 
inquired for the Due d'Orleans. The request was so audacious that 
the attendants imagined Dumas had an audience with His Royal 
Highness and promptly communicated the name of the visitor to 
the due. The due, somewhat surprised, ordered Dumas to be 
ushered in. M. Dumas entered with that confidence which is some- 
times the result of desperation. He lost no time in begging the due's 
attendance at his premiere. The due lazily declined, explaining that 
he was giving a dinner the following night to twenty or thirty visiting 
princes and nobilities and that as his dinner began at six and the play 
at seven there was no way to arrange for both. Dumas offered to 
put back the premiere of Henri III ct sa Cour one hour if the due 
would put forward his dinner the same period of time. The due 
began to smile at this persistence but offered the argument that the 
house must be sold out and that, therefore, there would be no room 
for him and his guests. Dumas countered by declaring that he had 
held the whole first circle of the Theatre-Francis in the faint prospect 
of the due's attendance. The due had no more arguments and as 
he rather desired to see what his disgraced clerk had done, agreed 
to attend. Dumas then hurried back to his mother. She seemed to 
be sleeping, and Dumas walked to his own room and crawled into 
bed. He could not sleep. Tomorrow would solve the entire riddle. 
In^the cafes that night the young romantics talked in loud confident 
voices, but their standard bearer lay in his bed staring silently at the 
ceiling. 

Long before the hour set for the rise of the curtain snake-like queues 
of humanity formed before the portals of the Theatre-Francis, From 
the walls Racine and Corneille gazed down on this vociferous mob 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 155 

with stony eyes. It pushed forward, shouted for the doors to open, 
bought cakes from itinerant vendors, listened to the chantcun and 
burst into laughter at the not too obscure political references of the 
popular songs. This mob did not carry pikes and billhooks. There 
were no bonnets rouges or tricolored cockades. Neither did they face 
stone walls that were to be demolished or the black mouths of cannon 
that were to demolish them. Yet among them were the fomentors 
of revolution, men who regarded the Theatre-Frangais as a Bastille 
that must be destroyed and reared anew as a temple of the goddess 
of romance. It was not a deliberate and prepared mob such as stormed 
the Theatre-Frangais a year later at the premiere of Hcrnani, for the 
issues were not so clearly defined. Yet it was conscious that innova- 
tion was in the air and scattered through this mob were enough young 
students, artists, writers and journalists who sensed the momentous- 
ness of the evening. As eight o'clock approached the carriages of 
the nobility rattled up and disgorged group after group of expectant 
notables, princes whose bosoms were one flash of decorations and 
women covered with jewels. The Due d'Orleans entered the theater 
on the arm of a friend, the crowd, with whom he was popular, 
cheering as he passed. Sober-faced conservatives and playwrights of 
the old school pushed their way through the lines and nodded coldly 
to Baron Taylor in the lobby. Dumas, who had passed the entire 
day by his mother's side, reached the theater late and crept through 
the doors and into a small box on the stage. From here he could 
see the house, a riot of movement and color, the first circle gleaming 
with stars of honor and diamond collars. In the balcony he perceived 
the solemn face of Porcher. He owed Porcher nearly a thousand 
francs. He looked elsewhere. In a box in the first tier sat Aimee- 
Alexandre, and beside her were Louis Boulanger, Victor Hugo and 
Alfred de Vigny. From the orchestra glowered M. Deviolaine. Near 
him was the long red nose of M. de Broval. M. Oudard's round bull- 
dog features rose from a seat. The two first rows of boxes were 
crammed with the aristocracy of Charles X. Dumas viewed these 
unknown celebrities with a vague curiosity and then diverted his 
attention to an animated section of young men in cloaks and colored 
gilets who lifted their canes and shook them and shouted, "T&e- 
Dieul" "Par la mort-Dieul" "Vive-Dicul" Roqueplan, Lassagnc, 



156 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Rousseau, de Leuven, Alphonse Karr, Alfred de Musset, Royer, 
Desnoyers, Vaillant! It was the advance guard of the romantics, the 
first battalion of that army of young men who had come to destroy 
the tradition of stalking Frenchmen in laticlave, cothurnus and 
helmet. They were but a limited faction as yet but within a year 
they would command an army. Henri 111 et sa Cour was to be the 
preliminary skirmish, the Valmy of the new revolution, and through 
it the dispositions of the two antagonistic forces were to be made 
plain. Dumas was unknown. He was not like Victor Hugo in the 
box there whose Odes ct Ballades and preface to Cromwell had made 
him the Napoleon of this campaign. Dumas's eyes turned from the 
animated young men to the sober face of Hugo. Both of them had 
possessed Revolutionary and Napoleonic officersnas fathers. Both of 
them had been born during a tradition which they now strove to 
demolish. But there was no comparison between them. Hugo was 
dynamite and Dumas was fireworks. Dumas's eye continued to 
revolve about the theater. There, in a discreet corner, was Melanie, 
leaning forward, an expression of frightened delight upon her dark 
face. Marie-Catherine was not present. Neither was Madame Dumas, 
who lay upon her bed in the Deviolaine house quite unconscious of 
what was occurring. The house was crowded now. Some of these 
impatient spectators had paid as much as twenty louis for a box. All 
faces turned toward the stage. There were three loud thumps behind 
the scene, a quivering of the great curtain as it rose slowly on the 
cabinet de travail of Ruggieri, astrologer and poisoner to Catherine 
de Medicis. 

The sensation of a breath of fresh air swept across the perspiring 
brow of Dumas and he leaned forward in his seat, his gaze fixed 
intently on Saint-Aulaire and Mademoiselle Leverd who were playing 
Ruggieri and Catherine de Medicis. A brief buzz of excitement burst 
from the audience, for Henri III et sa Cour had been mounted meticu- 
lously, elaborate costumes of the period provided and special scenery 
painted by renowned artists. The Administration had left no stone 
unturned to perfect an extravagant and breath-taking dtcor. The 
opening act was but a foretaste of what was to follow. Ruggieri's 
cabinet de travail with its chemical retorts and its huge telescope 
pointing out a window was no more than a beginning. The audience 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 157 

listened with patience to this long and somewhat tedious act in which 
the pawns of passion were properly placed and introduced. Catherine 
de Medicis plotted with Ruggieri to bring together Saint-Mgrin 
and the Duchesse de Guise. The meeting is effected and the Duchesse 
confesses her love to Saint-Megrin. The mignons have their futures 
foretold. The Due de Guise, wolfish and intense, comes too late to 
surprise the Duchesse and Saint-Megrin. He finds her forgotten 
handkerchief, however, and the curtain falls to his fierce: "Saint-Paul! 
qu'on me cherche les memes hommcs qui ont assassin^ Dugastl*' 
The curtain fell to a sudden ripple of applause that warmed the 
somewhat frightened players. Dumas slipped from his box, dashed 
out of the door of the theater and ran to tie corner of the rue Saint- 
Honore and the ru# de Richelieu to see his sick mother. She was 
sleeping quietly, and he returned to the theater, arriving just in time 
to witness the curtain rising on a hall in the Louvre. Here the dfrors, 
the chairs and tabourets and the brilliantly costumed mignons accom- 
panied by pages bearing their colors, aroused a spontaneous round 
of applause from the audience. The picture of a King of France play- 
ing with cup and ball and pea-shooters with his mignons had been 
feared by the actors but the spectators seemed vastly amused by it. 
They were thrilled, also, at the sight of the Due de Guise in full armor, 
the elevation of Saint-Megrin to a dukedom that he might meet Guise 
on equal ground, and Saint-M^grin's resounding challenge to the 
husband of the woman he loved: "Moi, Paid Estucrt, seigneur de 
Caussade, comte de Saint-Mtgrin, b toi, Henri de Lorraine, due de 
Guise: prenons h t&moin tous ceux id pr&ents, que nous te dtfions 
au combat b outrancc, toi et tous les princes de ta mdson, sait & 
l'pe seule, soit h la dague et au poignard, tant que le coeur ba&ra 
au corps, tant que la lame tiendra h la poignte; renonfant cFa&ance 
h ta merci, comme tu dots rcnoncer h la mienne; et, sur ce, que Die& 
et Saint Paid me soient en aider How was the audience to know that 
this formula came from Walter Scott? It resounded from the mouth 
of Firmin and it was new. There was again a falling curtain to 
general applause, and for a second time Dumas ran out of the theater 
to minister to his mother. The third act was the crucial test of the 
play. Here was the scene between the page a role in which Louise 
Despr&iux exhibited two slender shapely limbs and the Duchesse 



158 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

de Guise and the mailed fist episode which Dumas had paraphrased 
from that scene in "The Abbott" in which Lord Lindesay clutches 
Mary, Queen of Scots, by the arm. If this second scene in which 
the Due de Guise forces his wife to appoint a meeting with Saint- 
Mgrin failed, then the play would fail. It was awaited with tremors 
by Dumas and shudders by the principal players. The act swept to 
its crest to the increasing excitement of the audience; Guise seized 
his wife by the wrist with his mailed hand; Mademoiselle Mars cried 
in a voice of appalling anguish: "Vous me faites bicn mal, Henri; 
vous me jaites horriblement mal. . . . Grdce! Grdcel ah!" and as 
she turned to write the letter that was to lure her love to death her 
silken sleeve fell back revealing the terrible blue marks on her fore- 
arm. The shuddering audience exploded into thunders of applause. 
The romantics stood up in their seats and shouted. The crowded 
theater was in a nervous pandemonium. Dumas knew that his play 
had succeeded. From that moment Henri III et sa Cour proceeded 
to a continuous uproar of approval. The fourth act where Saint- 
Megrin departs for his fatal assignation was one of quivering suspense. 
The fifth act continued to a delirium. Saint-Megrin was cornered; 
the Due dc Guise and his wolves were at his heels; the unfortunate 
man leaped from the window and was slaughtered outside; the Due 
de Guise dropped the handkerchief he had found in the first act 
with the cry: "Eh bien, scrre-lui la gorge avec ce mouchoir; la mart 
lui sera plus douce; il est aux armes de la Duchesse de Guise;" the 
Duchesse fell to the floor with a cry; and the merciless Due, turning 
with a ferocious look, exclaimed: "Bien! et mcdntenant qui nous 
avons fini avec le vdet, occufons-nous du maitrc" Somewhere an 
imaginary Henri III may be supposed to have writhed uneasily upon 
his throne. The audience burst into clamors of hysterical approval 
and as Firmin advanced upon the stage leading Dumas by the hand 
and announced the name of the author, "Alexandre Dumas,'* in a 
loud voice, there was a ripple of movement in the first circle and 
the Due d'Orleans stood up and was promptly followed by his guests. 
Firmin, who had epileptic tendencies and who was completely ex- 
hausted by his performance, trembled violently, and Dumas, gazing 
across the footlights at the flashing array of decorations and diamonds, 
began to tremble, too, but with a fever that was not fear. From a 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 159 

cluster of scats he heard young voices piercing the sustained thunder 
of applause, shrill voices shouting: "A bos Lcmcrcicr! A bos Alex- 
andre Duval! A bos Arnault!" and then again: "Tetc-Dieu! Par la 
mort-Dieu! Vive-Dieu!" The romantics were hurling their first 
open challenges at the classicists. Dumas could see them all: Hugo 
and de Vigny standing at the front of the box like Napoleon and 
Massena observing the progress of a battle; Roqueplan on the field 
itself like a Murat; Alphonse Karr, Lassagne, Royer, Desnoyers, 
Vaillant, Rousseau, a shouting vanguard of warriors. Deviolainc, 
who had been made ill by the play, was struggling up the aisle, and 
in her secluded corner Melanie was weeping. Madame Malibran, 
clutching a pillar, was leaning out of her box. It was roses, roses 
all the way for the young man as he struggled through the swirling 
mob on his way to his mother's room. 

The stars shone brighter as he hurried through the cobbled streets 
leaving behind him the lighted portico of the Theatre-Franfais. He 
was no longer Dumas, under-clerk in the Due d'Orleans* establish- 
ment; he was Alexandre Dumas, playwright and author of the suc- 
cessful Henri III ct sa Cour which was running at the national house 
of drama. He was the John the Baptist of the Romantic Movement, 
the first man in France to break down the hide-bound traditions of 
the Theatre-Fran^ais. Others might follow him with more venture- 
some and more striking productions but they could not take away 
from him his crown. He suspected that he possessed no style, and 
later comradeship with Hugo convinced him that he was unequal 
and unequipped for the leadership of the Romantic Movement, but 
he possessed the dash and gusto of the field-commander. He was 
like his father, General Alexandre Dumas, who was brave in battle, 
who could capture Mont-Ccnis and hold the splintered bridge at 
Clausen, but who could never rate a marechaFs baton. Well, to Hugo 
the baton; to him the intuitive ability to hold the bridge. His mother 
was sleeping when he reached her room and he sat down by her 
bed, his head whirling with the excitement of the evening, and 
gazed at her for a long time. She had not witnessed this triumph. 
She had rested on her poor paralyzed side and slept through it all. 
Perhaps she was wiser than he, after all. She had heard of triumphs 
befort, and all they meant to her now was a dusty sword hanging 



X 6o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

on the wall and a grave without a stone on a forgotten hill-side. 
There was a letter lying on the floor near the door and Dumas picked 
it up and opened it. "I cannot sleep without first telling you, my 
dear young friend . . * splendid triumph . . . your laurels . . . 
success ... in the future. ..." He turned to the signature. 
Baron de Broval. M. de Broval of the Palais-Royal. It had been so 
short a time ago that M. de Broval had looked down his long red 
nose and suspended the young man from his humble duties. Tasting 
his first triumph Dumas sat by his mother's bed and observed the 
cold stars twinkling through the window. 

Dumas awoke, like Lord Byron, to find himself famous. He had 
been unknown, a vague name to which no associations either favor- 
able or antagonistic could be attached, the day before; and now, as 
this bright Sunday morning moved toward the mid-day, he found 
himself the talk of Paris. During the day hatreds and friendships 
sprang out of nothing. Shouting boys bearing huge bouquets mounted 
the stairs until the room was filled with flowers. Dumas covered his 
mother's bed with them and she reached out her unparalyzed hand 
to touch these bright colors, unaware that they were flowers or that 
they stood for triumph. Ricourt, the editor of L' Artiste, bustled in 
and bore him off to the studio of Achille Deveria where that black- 
eyed genius made an extraordinary etching of him. By two o'clock 
his manuscript had been sold for six thousand francs and Dumas 
ran downstairs to M. Deviolaine's apartment to show the old boar 
the bright new bills. "What!" cried M. Deviolaine, "Are there idiots 
who have bought your play from you!'* and he raised his hands help- 
lessly. Then he said: "Ah, if your father could only have been there!" 
Dumas hurried to M. Laffite's house and bought back his promissory 
note for three thousand francs. He returned to Porcher the thousand 
francs that gentle gambler had advanced him at odd times. Then 
he decided on an economic course; he compounded with the pro- 
prietor of the Cafe Desmares for one year's meals in consideration 
of eighteen hundred francs paid down immediately. It was a bad 
investment for the restaurant failed within a month. The day con- 
tinued to be filled with excitement. Young romantics visited him 
and the conflicting opinions of the critics were already food for 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 161 

vigorous argument A letter from the Thatre-Franais hurried the 
excited young man there and he learned that the Censor was worried 
about the scene where Henri III plays cup and ball with his mignons. 
It seemed to that gentleman disrespectful to monarchy. Dumas 
secured an audience with M. de Martignac and agreed to a few 
alterations, most of them concerned with Michelot's rendering of 
the tide role. 

The days were a flurry of excitements and honors. David d'Angers 
made a medallion of Dumas which showed the young man with a 
curling pompadour and a small fluffy beard framing his face* Emile 
de Girardin invited him to contribute to Lc Voleur. The Due d'Or- 
leans received him in the royal box at the second performance of 
Henri 111 et sa Cour. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans welcomed him 
in private audience in her home and inquired about his mother. 
Dumas, though loudly Republican in his sympathies, could never- 
theless be flattered by attentions such as these, and he loved to boast 
about them, to expatiate on his friendship with famous men of the 
era. It did not matter to what party they belonged, B6ranger, the 
Due d'Orleans, the Prince Napoleon, anybody in the public eye would 
do. The truth was that Dumas did not think deeply about these 
matters. He was impulsive and rather mixed in his standards. The 
final flattery came when the Due d'Orleans appointed the playwright 
to the post of assistant librarian at the Palais-Royal, making Dumas 
assistant to Casimir Delavigne. He received only twelve hundred 
francs a year, the due being as thrifty as ever, but the position was 
almost a sinecure. Dumas squared his position with his Republican 
principles by adroitly arguing that the Due d'Orleans represented 
in Charles X's reign just that type of Republicanism for which the 
time called. It was a specious argument and the future Lcmis-PhiHippe 
must have smiled to himself. 

The question of living was easier now, and Dumas began to adopt 
that picturesqueness that was to continue throughout his days of 
affluence. He became more dandified than ever, wearing coats with 
rolled collars, rainbow-hued gilets and tight trousers. He carried a 
cane and affected an eye-glass. He bought a saddle horse and can- 
tered forth in the morning. He acquired a servant named Joseph. 
Suddenly recalling Marie-Catherine and Alexandre fils he secured 



THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

a small house for them in Passy. For himself he took an apartment 
in the rue dc 1'Universite which he furnished elaborately and where 
he gave extravagant dinners. He was on the top of the wave for the 
rest of the season of 1829, for Henri 111 ct sa Cour with its forty-odd 
performances brought in some fifty thousand francs. Innumerable 
invitations were showered upon him, and M. Sosthene de la Roche- 
foucauld, Minister of the King's Household, gave him free entry 
to all the royal theaters. Mademoiselle Mars, his brilliant Duchesse 
de Guise, recovered sufficiently from her former dislike of his negroid 
qualities, to invite him to late suppers in her apartment, where he 
met Vatout, author of Histoire dc la fille d'un Roi and Conspiration 
dc Cellamarc, Romieu, General Denniee, Becquet of the Journal dcs 
D6bats and author of Mouchoir bleu and Morny, that personifica- 
tion of aristocracy and elegance. He became a young Rastignac tast- 
ing the first fruits of conquest. It was very much like a romance to 
the young man who continued to dramatize himself with a gaudy 
eye for effect. 

Meanwhile there was opposition enough to warn him that his 
victory was only tentative. The traditionalists were not defeated as 
easily as this. Stories began to creep about Paris that were warranted 
to bclitdc the romantics and exhibit them, including Dumas, as young 
barbarians. One talc insisted that after the premiere of Henri III ct 
sa Cour a sabbatical dance took place around Racine's bust and that 
the dancers shouted "Racine is fallen!" and screamed for the heads 
of the Academicians. A fanatical romantic named Gentil, who suf- 
fered from the itch, was purported to go about scratching himself 
and shouting, "Racine is a scoundrel!" The hair of respectable con- 
servative folk began to rise and murmurs of a new and imminent 
St. Bartholomew's Day were raised. When M. Auger, an unfortunate 
classicist, committed suicide it was whispered that he did so to escape 
the general massacre. The one classical play produced during the 
season, Elizabeth d'Anglcterrc, by M. Ancclot, was a flat failure. The 
Academicians gathered and discussed this new and barbarous invasion 
of the Th&tre-Fransais and a petition was sent to the King. This 
petition was a vigorous bit of polemic. "Whether from depravity of 
taste," it said in part, "or from consciousness of their inability to take 
tis (Talma's) place, certain associates of the Thatre-Franpus have 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 163 

pretended that the method of art in which Talma excelled could no 
longer be beneficially carried on; they are seeking to exclude tragedy 
from the stage and to substitute for it plays composed in imitation cf 
the most eccentric dramas that foreign literature affords dramas 
which no one had ever dared before reproduce except in our lowest 
theaters." And again: "Ought the funds placed, by your liberality, 
at their disposal, in order to advance the cause of good taste, to be 
squandered over their own particular fancies, which tend to make 
the greatest names in Art subservient to the Melpomene of the boule- 
vards, and to reduce their sublime art to the conditions of a vile 
trade?" This imposing document was signed by M. Arnault, Npo- 
mucene Lemercier, M. Viennet, M. de Jouy, M. Andrieux, Eticnne 
Jay and Onesime Leroy. They were the Seven Worthies upholding 
Racine and Corneille against the world. Shortly after this manifesto 
M. Arnault intimated to Dumas that the young romantic's presence 
in his home, a cool temple of classicism, was not welcome. As 
abruptly as this one of the first doors that had opened for the un- 
known boy from Villers-Cotterets was closed against the alarming 
author of Henri III et sa Cour. Dumas did not worry about this 
defalcation of an old patron. There were too many new friends. 
Mademoiselle Duchesnois, won over by the classicists, and it is to 
be suspected, disappointed because she received no part in Henri 111 
et sa Cour, also petitioned the King against the romantic inroads oa 
the repertoire of the Theatre-Fran^ais and cited Baron Taylor as the 
traitor in the camp. Charles X perused these petitions and drafted 
a brief answer. It read: "I cannot do anything in the matter you 
desire; I only occupy one seat in the theater, like every other French- 
man*" This was cold comfort but it did not signify that the King 
was in any way favorable to the Romantic School. As a point of fact, 
he was out for bigger game than a few wild-eyed young playwrights* 
It was perceptible that the lines were clearly drawn now and that 
the decisive battle was in immediate prospect. Dumas, slightly intoxi- 
cated by the uproar he had occasioned and automatically one of the 
triumvirate with Hugo and de Vigny, strutted about Paris with an 
imperial air. The librarian at the Palais-Royal, Casimir Delavignc, 
viewed his assistant with an aggrieved eye, for Delavignc's Marino 
fditro was still champing at the bit and confined to its stall by the 



164 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

success of Dumas's play. Eventually Delavigne withdrew it and gave 
it to the Porte-Saint-Martin theater. The grave librarian had not 
signed the manifesto, for he was neither classicist nor romanticist, 
neither fish nor fowl, but something between the two. His dramas 
were like a weak chin. If he did not see eye to eye with the 
classicists neither did he sympathize with Dumas. And neither could 
Charles X, when he bethought himself, sympathize with the Roman- 
tics. As the new school talked louder and louder and developed into 
young fire-eaters the King took alarm. The increasing liberality of 
printed matter aroused him to action and he began to take those 
steps in the suppression of free speech which were to result in his 
downfall within a year. Beranger was already in prison. The Corsairc 
and its editor, M. Vremiot, were prosecuted in the Police Court for 
an article called Sottise dcs deux farts and convicted. Fontan, a 
talented young journalist, was incarcerated for an article entitled 
Mouton enrage, and Barthelemy, a clever writer of light verse, was 
indicted for a poem called Fils de I'homme. Politics and the Romantic 
movement became mixed, for the journalists fought for freedom of 
political expression and the romantics for freedom of dramatic struc- 
ture. Dumas talked much without thinking a great deal, permitted 
Hugo and de Vigny to do his cogitation for him, and became the 
d'Artagnan of the movement. Hugo was the Athos and de Vigny 
the Aramis. Gautier was to be the Porthos. The night of the premiere 
of Henri III et sa Cour Hugo had seized Dumas by the hand and 
exclaimed, "It is my turn now." Dumas waited confidently for the 
revelation. 

Thoughts of his Christine crept back into Dumas's mind. A charm- 
ing young actress, possibly Virginie Bourbier, had reproached him 
because there was no part for her in the unproduced play, and Dumas, 
the eternal gallant, had promised to rectify the omission. The idea 
suddenly occurred to him that he could think better while traveling 
and therefore he mounted a diligence in the Cours de Messageries 
one morning and settled himself for the twenty hours' journey over 
a rough road to Havre. The diligence rumbled along the highway 
and Dumas, seated in the coupe, and huddled up in his great coat, 
scowled, flashed brief glances at the landscape, jotted down odd notes 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 165 

on a bit of paper, and now and then knocked his forehead furiously 
with his knuckles. By the time the heavy coach rumbled into the 
sea-port he had completed his revision, a revision, it may be said, 
owing much to the previous suggestions of the astute actor, Samson, 
who had advised him at the second reading. At Havre Dumas ate 
oysters, saw the sea for the first time, sailed about the harbor, bought 
a couple of china vases which he could have purchased more cheaply 
in Paris, and started back to the capital. Seventy-two hours after he 
had left it he was again in the whirl of Paris. Christine was recon- 
structed and all he had to do was to set it down on paper. At his 
apartment he found a note from Victor Hugo inviting him to Achille 
Deveria's house for the first reading of Marion Delorme, which, at 
that time, was called Un dud sous Richelieu. Hugo had written this 
play in twenty-six days. 

Achille Dveria's studio contained the future of France. Dumas, 
entering late and flinging his cloak over a chair, glanced about him 
and saw the plump pouter pigeon Honore de Balzac, who detested 
him; the aristocratic and friendly face of Alfred de Vigny, whose 
Othello was progressing so well; the worried countenance of Baron 
Taylor, who was still threatening to fly from authors and bury him- 
self in the sands of the Sahara; the bustling restlessness of Sainte- 
Beuve, arranging as always a comfortable chair for Victor; the stub- 
born expression of Frederic Soulie, whom Dumas had not seen since 
their altercation over Christine*, the languid attitude of Alfred de 
Musset, who lolled like a wilted lily; Prosper Merimee who seemed 
to walk through life with a mask; the icy aloofness of Eug&ie Dela- 
croix; the laughing boisterousness of Louis Boulanger; Alexandra 
Soumet; fimile and Antony Deschamps; Charles Magnin; Eu^ne 
Deveria, brother to Achille; Armand and fidouard Bertin; Villemain; 
Alcide de Beauchesne; and Madame Amable Tastu. This gathering 
was more than the Pl&ade, more than the Cenacle; it was the firma- 
ment of France. And by the table in the corner, spreading his manu- 
script before him, was the youthful Sun-GodVictor Hugo. Dumas 
sat down near the buffet of refreshments and composed himself for 
the first reading of Un duel sous Richelieu. 

What did these men who were diverting the stream of French 



!66 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

letters from its narrow channel into a wide and rushing river that 
forked about islands and ran both deep and shallow think about the 
author of Henri 111 ct sa Cour? Did they accept him as an equal, 
as a creator to be placed beside Hugo and de Vigny? They did 
nothing of the sort. There was always gentle contempt or smiling 
benevolence or a slight bending in their attitude toward Dumas. The 
young man attracted and repelled them. His vivacity, his gusto, his 
frank friendliness, his spendthrift generosity, his absolute lack of 
jealousy and spleen, his dramatic astuteness and swashbuckling man- 
erisms attracted them; but his overweening vanity, his lack o 
profundity, his dependence on other writers and other books, his 
vulgarities in taste and costume, his negroid qualities repelled them. 
He was nouveau richc in literature, a pauvrct of genius. Henri III 
ct sa Cour had been a success of assimilation. Balzac frankly detested 
Dumas. He saw as little of him as he could, and once when they met 
at some gathering remarked as he passed the tall young playwright, 
"When I can do nothing else I shall take to writing plays." "Begin 
at once, then," retorted Dumas. Sainte-Beuve, though he tried to be 
fair, possessed no particular love for Dumas, a coldness that may be 
explained, perhaps, by the critic's ardent discipleship of Hugo. As 
for Victor, he was both jealous and deceptive in his attitude. He 
professed friendship and accepted the laudation of Dumas and yet 
tacitly approved such unfair proceedings as the Cassagnac attack. 
Sudden success and elevation had brought to the surface of Dumas 
a naive and flamboyant vanity that was far from the silent pride 
great artists take in their triumphs. He loved the plaudits of the 
crowd, enjoyed occupying a prominent place in the public eye; if his 
name was not in the papers he was disconsolate. He dramatized him- 
self unceasingly and vulgarly and this irritated those other writers 
who were also anxious for public acclaim but more sly and restrained 
in their eagerness. Victor Hugo, who posed as a Jupiter armed with 
thunderbolts, was the demi-god of the younger men and they resented 
any infringement upon his divine status. He was the young Titan, 
the Hercules of letters who balanced Notre Dame de Paris in the 
palm of one hand and Cromwell in the other. His vast pomposity 
was taken for godhead; his profound assurance was the mantle <^f 
divine sovereignty. 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 167 

In the face of this jealous antagonism mute enough at first but 
manifesting itself in odd ways Dumas preserved his child-like faith 
in humanity and his affection for those who injured him* His atti- 
tude toward Hugo was admirable. He adored Hugo and believed 
in him as a great artist and prophet of the new era and he never 
failed to express this belief, not even after he knew that Hugo was 
indirectly attacking him. What did it matter after all? It was the 
work that counted, not the man. And so, seated in Achille Deveria's 
studio he attended the reading of Un duel sous Richelieu with an 
enthusiasm unmistakable in its sincerity. He considered the first act 
a masterpiece, although as he listened to it a feeling of sadness swept 
over him. He recollected how lacking in style he was, how far behind 
Hugo's best works his own poetical efforts lagged, and he sighed 
softly. If he could turn phrases so neatly and beautifully! Yet when 
the reading terminated he leaped up in excitement and with shouts 
of joy. Alternately extolling the play and cramming his mouth with 
refreshments from the buffet he gave a fervid representation of the 
delirious disciple. 

He followed with the closest attention and warmest assistance the 
progress of Marion Delormetht title having been changed from 
Un duel sous Richelieu. Harel of the Odeon made a bid for it. So 
did Crosnier of the Porte-Saint-Martin. Hugo gave it to Taylor at 
the Theatre-Franfais and it was placed in rehearsal almost imme- 
diately. But the way of Marion Delorme was not to be as easy as thaL 
The heavy fist of the Censor descended upon it, and it was interdicted! 
because of the role that Louis XIII played in it. Hugo appealed to 
M. de Martignac who had been so generous about Henri HI et sa Cowr, 
but M. de Martignac was powerless. It was not the question of a 
Valois character here; a Bourbon, an ancestor of Charles X was 
involved; M. de Martignac could do nothing but cough nervously and 
indicate that the last court of appeal was the King. Hugo promptly 
turned to Charles X himself and on August 7, 1829 (perhaps due 
to the kindly aid of Madame du Cayla), obtained an audience at 
Saint-Cloud with the old man of the Bourbon nose and the drooping 
underlip. This meeting resulted in nothing but a confirmation of 
the interdiction, and, as a compensating sop to the aggrieved young 
draixxatist, the raising of Hugo's government pension from two 



168 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

sand to four thousand francs annually. But Hugo was not to be 
bought. He proudly refused the augmentation. The Romantics were 
discouraged for they had considered Marion Delorme the crucial stroke 
to follow up Henri HI ct sa Cour. Dumas, taking his color from his 
comrades and properly infuriated, was inspired to indite a poem to 
Hugo which began: 

Us ont dit: "Uoeuvre du genie 
Est au monde un flambeau qui luit, 
Que sa lumiere soit bannie 
Et tout rentrera dans la nuit" 
Puis de leurs hdeines fun^bres 
Us ont epaissi les teritbres; 
Mais tout effort est impuissant 
Contre la ftammc vacillante 
Que Dicu mit, UgZre et brillante, 
Au front du poete en naissant. 

A rare folio of Ronsard's verse was presented to Hugo by Sainte- 
Beuve and on its wide margins were poetical testimonials from 
Lamartine, Alfred de Vigny, Madame Amable Tastu, Ulric Guttin- 
guer, Ernest Fouinet, Louis Boulanger, Jules Janin and Fonteney. 
The young Sun-God withdrew himself into the shadows and set 
to work upon HernanL 

The breach left by the interdiction of Marion Delorme was filled 
by the production of Alfred de Vigny's translation of Shakespeare's 
Othello on October 24, 1829. This drama, called in French Lc More 
de Venise, created another breach, however, between de Vigny and 
Hugo. Had Hugo not said after the premiere of Henri III et sa 
Cour "It is my turn now?" The young pontiff of romanticism re- 
sented the obtrusion of de Vigny into the foremost of the battle, the 
diversion from him of the bright spotlight of public interest, and 
he revealed his resentment in an unmistakable manner. By a furious 
and sustained endeavor he had delivered Hernani to the Theatre- 
Fran^ais on October i, the extreme speed obviously being due to 
his desire to strike the decisive blow against the traditionalists. And 
now de Vigny had slipped in ahead of him. Hugo's rancor, however, 



TAKING THE BASTILLE 169 

was uncalled for. De Vigny's Othello, although it aroused excitement 
and Joanny's performance of the Moor thrilled a mixed audience, was 
no more than a holding of the line already established by Henri III 
et sa Cour. After all, Othello was a borrowed play. Dumas, seated far 
front in the theater, was one of the loudest and most vociferous of the 
enthusiasts. He had discovered the delight of being obnoxious and 
noisy in the theater. To stand up and wave a cane, to bellow fero- 
ciously at booing and hissing traditionalists, to roar like a lion his 
approval of romantic manifestations, these things resulted in repri- 
mands in the daily press and reprimands meant his name in print. 

During this period of noisy propaganda against Boileau's dictums, 
Dumas was negotiating over Christine. Frederic Soulie's play on the 
same subject had failed dismally at the Odeon and the Thatre- 
Frangais was begging Dumas to submit his script for another reading. 
But Dumas was tired of the compromising and dilatory tactics of the 
national house of drama. He refused the invitation for another read- 
ing and pointed out that such a proceeding would be a third reading 
in reality and, therefore, undignified. He turned his back on the stony 
faces of Racine and Corneille and addressed his attention to an amaz- 
ing letter which Harel of the Odeon had despatched to him. It ran; 

My dear Dumas, What do you think of this idea of Mademoi- 
selle Georges? To play your Christine immediately, on the same 
stage and with the same actors as those who played Soulie's Chris- 
tine? The conditions to be settled by yourself. You need not trouble 
your head with the idea that you will strangle a friend's work, 
because it yesterday died a natural death. Yours ever, Hard, 

What a scoundrel! Poor Souli! Dumas was tempted to throw the 
note away and then, reconsidering the temptation, scribbled a line 
across it and forwarded it to Soulie. At least he would show Soulie 
that he was innocent of any connivance detrimental to the saw-mill 
owner and playwright. His scribbled line read: 

My dear Frdd&ic, Read this letter. What a rascal your friend 
Harel is! Yours, Alex. Dumas. 



170 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Soulie replied promptly: 

My dear Dumas, Harel is not my friend, he is a manager. Harcl 
is not a rascal, only a speculator. I would not do what he is doing 
but I would advise him to do so. Gather up the fragments of my 
Christine -and I warn you there are plenty of them throw them 
into the basket of the first rag-and-bone man that passes your way 
and get your own piece played. Yours ever, F. Soulie, 

Well ... if Soulie felt that way. Dumas walked past the Theatre- 
Pranjais with a sardonic smile on his face. 

Christine was read and read once only to the assembled Odeon 
>layers, both Jules Janin and Sainte-Beuve being present possibly as 
inofficial observers of the romantic army. Mademoiselle Georges lifted 
icr beautiful white arms and approved the title-part, Janin looked at 
iainte-Beuve and Sainte-Beuve looked at Janin. Then both of them 
hook their heads. It was only Victor Hugo, the Sun-God, who could 

. . That evening Harel made a nervous appearance at Dumas's 
partment, and, after admiring the young man's new purple gilet, 
icsitatingly suggested that Christine which was wholly written in 
erse be turned into prose. An easy enough matter. After all ... 
)umas rose to his long legs, stalked to the door, opened it, and sug- 
ested that the night air might prove beneficial to HareL Harel 
assed out disconsolately. He still insisted that it was a beautiful 
urple gilet. 

In the rue Notre Dame des Champs the young Sun-God who had 
ibored so furiously and against time on Hcrnani glanced at the line 
iscribed on the sheet of paper before him, looked up, and smiled. 

ran: 
Vous 6tcs man lion superbc et gtntreuxt 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 



His Majesty Charles X paused long enough from his preparations for 
the Algerian campaign to instigate a tightening of the Censorship. 
The young Romantics, it seemed to him and M. de Polignac, were 
altogether too free in their treatment of royalty. After all, kings were 
not cruel puppets and neither were queens meretricious dolls. It was 
for this reason that Marion Dclorme had been interdicted. The dar- 
ing supposition that any youthful writer might sit in his attic (or 
wherever writers sat when they labored Charles X was not quite 
sure) and hold up to ridicule rulers anointed by God and inject sly 
Republican sentiments into his plays was too painful for the flower 
of the Elder Branch to contemplate. He now had the Polignac minis- 
try to aid and abet him in his schemes of suppression and the iron 
hand of the Bourbon began to manifest itself more rigorously than 
ever. Charles X was too old to peer through the mists of throbbing 
Paris and see the blood-stained specter of the Three Days in the 
immediate distance, Dumas, excoriating the Censorship in his extrava- 
gant way, sudddenly experienced the full weight of the iron hand. 
Christine was stopped. The excited young man bustled off to M, 
Briflfaut, the author of a dreary Ninus ll> and learned that his drama 
simply bristled with political innuendoes. In fact, there were so many 
of them that the bewildered Censor in this case M. Briffaut did 
not know where to start expurgating the unhappy allusions. What a 
terrible line, for instance, was: 

Ccst un hochet royal trouvt dans mon bcrccaul 

Why, that line attacked legitimacy, the divine right, and the succes- 

171 



172 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

sion! M. Briffaut shuddered with horror at the thought Dumas, 
almost convinced that he was going mad, listened to M. Briffaut and 
could make no rejoinder. "And the situation in which the crown is 
sent to Cromwell," continued the sub-Censor, "that is a very dangerous 
suggestion for the Monarchy." Dumas protested that the situation was 
an historical fact. M. Briflfaut shook his head. The decapitation of 
Louis XVI was also an historical fact but it would hardly serve for 
the Theatre-Franfais. No, there were historical facts and historical 
facts. Dumas left M. Briffaut wonderingjust what difference there 
was between kings and ostriches. 

Harel, impatient to proceed with Christine, urged the young man 
to approach the head of the Censorial staff, M. de Lourdoueix. He 
slyly suggested that Dumas secure that august individual's patronage 
through a noted lady whose favors gladdened the evenings of M. de 
Lourdoueix. The young man scorned the silken barricade of petti- 
coats, and, like Raoul in Les Huguenots, full of confidence in the 
justice of his cause, marched off boldly to the south side of Paris to 
beard the Chief Censor in his den. M. de Lourdoueix refused to be 
bearded and remarked somewhat testily: "It is no use for you to say 
anything at all. As long as the Elder Branch is on the throne and I 
act as Censor your work will be suspended." Dumas lost his temper. 
"I shall wait, then!" he retorted in a significant manner, his voice full 
of exploding musketry and crashing barricades. M. de Lourdoueix 
bowed ironically and remarked: "That decision had been already 
arrived at." It was a good retort, so good that all Dumas could do 
(and he never failed to have the last word if it were possible) was to 
bawl through the closing door: "Then I repeat it!" He strode away 
growling to himself, fiery Republican sentiments springing up like 
armed men in his mind. It was time for the removal of all Kings. 
The head of Charles X would look fine oh one of the iron pickets 
before the Theatre-Frangais. Curse the Polignac ministry! Curse M. 
de Lourdoueix! Curse . . . Suddenly he stopped in the middle of 
the boulevard and said aloud: "A man who, when discovered by his 
mistress's husband, kills her swearing that she had offered resistance 
to his addresses, and dying on the scaffold for the murder saves the 
wife's honor and expiates his crime." Elk me rtsistait, je I'ai assassin^! 
The.^assersby, observing the tall young man in the fanciful gilet 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 173 

festooned with gold chains mumbling to himself, gave him a wide 
berth. He might be one of the madmen of Paris, he who was Gannot, 
for instance, or Caillaux the prophet. Dumas paid no attention to the 
startled glances of the pedestrians. He had found the theme of 
Antony. 

Where had it come from? Out of the air? Out of M. Briffaufs 
wrinkled forehead? Out of M. de Lourdoueix's sour expression? It 
had come out of his own life. These words spoken aloud in the 
boulevard were merely the verbal recognition of the suddenly dis- 
covered imaginary climax to the emotional storm through which he 
had passed so recently. Things happened like that to the born writer. 
An unexpected flash in the brain and everything was clear. It was his 
love affair with Melanie Waldor that he would fashion into a drama. 
The new play would be in prose. It would be swift and fiery as his 
ardor for Melanie had been; it would be Satanic and thrilling as he 
had seemed to Melanie; it would be sensational and modern as the 
feverish affair had progressed. That was it modern. No more armor 
and doublets and dead queens and "hochets royaux" and dangerous 
political allusions. As he hastened toward his apartment he considered 
the varying facets of his liaison with Melanie. There had been his 
frantic wooing, the discreet little room in which she had given herself 
to him, his melodramatic assumption of a Satanic role, his fear of 
Captain Waldor (had he not hurried three times to acquaintances in 
the War Office and maneuvered postponements of the Captain's leave 
of absence from the dull country garrison?), and his actual jealousy 
an agony that had eventually dwindled to an insincere simulation* 
He adored Melanie no longer. Three years had sufficed to lessen, still, 
and eventually slaughter die affection which had sprung to so fiery 
a life in M. Villenave's drawing room. The dark thin woman who 
had reposed so quietly beneath the painting of Anne Boleyn and 
beside the urn that once contained the heart of Bayard was no longer 
a mysterious and desirable personality but a jealous and possessive 
creature uneven in temper and suffering from dyspepsia. Their assig- 
nationsonce so illicitly sweet had degenerated into a series of 
reproaches on her side and an ineffectual mummery of the aspect of 
love on his* Virginie Bourbier, Mademoiselle Mars, Louise Despreaux, 
these were the names she continually flung at him. He knew he was 



i 7 4 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

unfaithful, that he was incapable of fidelity; still, the demon of self- 
dramatization awakened an injured soul within him. Melanie did not 
understand him. The infidelities of the artist were the weapons of 
creation. Well, he would make a play of it all. Melanie should be 
Adele (he might as well use the name of his first sweetheart) and he 
would be ... would be Antony. Antony who had flung the world 
away for the love of Cleopatra. And Antony would be something 
like Didier in Victor Hugo's Marion Delorme. Romantic, Satanic, 
mad. "Demandez k un cadavrc combicn dc fois il a v6cul" The 
figures of the play slowly emerged into a phantom life in his mind. 
When he reached his apartment in the rue de 1'Universite he had 
conceived the shadowy scaffolding of a play. 

Dumas wrote Antony in six weeks and into that drama he flung an 
intensity and melodramatic substance that was astonishing for the 
period. The play had the singleness of an obsessing situation. He read 
it before the assembled company of the Theatre-Frangais where it 
was received rather coldly but accepted nevertheless. The mimes could 
not understand a modern play in which the characters dressed in con- 
temporary garments. It recalled to them rather unpleasantly such 
tawdry (but overwhelmingly popular) boulevard melodramas as 
Trcnte Ans, ou la Vic d'un Joueur; and productions of this type as 
far from Racine as the North Pole is from the South Pole seemed 
to some of them profanations of the House of Moliere. Still Mademoi- 
selle Mars and Firmin not without misgivings received the leading 
roles and a call was issued for immediate rehearsals. Both the direc- 
torate of the Theatre-Frangais and Dumas had failed to take into 
account the Censor. M, de Lourdoucix received his copy of the script, 
read it, and hastily issued a notice of indefinite suspension. Dumas 
was beside himself. Two plays suppressed in succession! Did it mean 
that he was to be permitted no more productions while Charles X 
reigned in the Tuileries? The angry words of M. de Lourdoueix 
echoed ominously in his ears: "As long as the Elder Branch is on the 
throne and I act as Censor your work will be suspended." Then come 
quickly, come quickly, Revolution! The young man became more 
republican than ever and the cafes echoed to his wordy eloquence. 
Happily for him, however, other influences were at work, among 
them "that rascal" Hard who possessed powerful friends close to the 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 175 

Censorship and Madame du Cayla, close to the throne, who consid- 
ered Dumas a rather fascinating young man, and in March Christine 
was returned to the Odeon theater with very few changes and released 
for production. Even the "hochet royal" remained undisturbed. Re- 
hearsals started immediately with Mademoiselle Georges as Queen 
Christine, Lockroy as Monaldeschi, Ligier as Scntinelli, and Mademoi- 
selle Noblet as Paula, 
Antony continued to repose under the black cloud of the Censorship. 

At one o'clock on the afternoon on February 25, 1830, a mob of 
young men gathered at the rue de Valois door of the Thatre-Franais 
and pushed through into the unlighted auditorium. The passersby 
stopped in amazement to view this concourse of outlandish figures, 
and small urchins hastened to the nearest piles of debris in the gutters 
for ammunition. The opportunity for offensive battle was too much 
for them. This gesticulating crowd of young men was garmented in a 
bewildering array of unusual costumes. Immense Spanish capes. Fan- 
tastic gilets of barbaric hues. Coats & la Robespierre. Henri III caps. 
Southern costumes from Provence and the Basque country. Turkish, 
Greek and Bedouin robes. The street arabs seized their cannon-balls 
of debris and let fly at them. Loud curses. Threatening canes. Clenched 
fists. The streets arabs redoubled their attack to roars of laughter from 
the loitering pedestrians. The astonishing figures disappeared as 
rapidly as possible into the gloomy maw of the Th^tre-Fran^ak. 
Once inside they spread over the scats, securing points of vantage, 
settling down to their long wait for the evening perf ormance, deposit- 
ing beside them their bundles of cervelas, ham and bread and their tafi 
bottles of red wine. They composed the first division of the Romantic 
Army called into existence by Victor Hugo and assembled as his 
claque for the opening night of Hernani. A literary Waterloo was to 
be fought. 

The interdiction of Marion Dclorme, the limited success of Alfred 
de Vigny's Lc More dc Vcnisc, the querulous antagonism of the 
traditionalists, and, perhaps, the nearing glow of the approaching July 
Days, had created a strangely taut situation. Hcrnani was more than 
a play; it was a cause. By it rose or fell the youthful standard of the 
Romantic School. Hie young men of Paris knew this and so did the 



I7 6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

traditionalists. Hugo knew it, also. He knew that he could not trust 
the professional claque that regardless army of mercenaries, that he 
did not command enough money to swing it wholeheartedly into his 
camp. Therefore he devised a claque of his own. From the ateliers, 
high rooms on the Left Bank, cafes, and gathering-places of the young 
writers and painters he recruited volunteers, assembling them as a 
general assembles his troops, indicating leaders, and forming well- 
defined commands* These commands were led by trusted captains, 
by Louis Boulanger, Emile Deschamps, Charles Nodier, Achille 
Deveria, Gerard de Nerval, and a dozen others. Slips of red paper 
with the Spanish word "hierro" (iron) printed upon them were dis- 
tributed to the warriors as a means of identification. From one o'clock 
on Jeune-France poured into the murkiness of the Theatre-Franf ais, 
bent on securing the best seats before the traditionalists appeared, 
joking among themselves, roaring out popular chansons, shouting for 
the sheer pleasure of shouting, hurling defiances at the stony and 
unperturbed faces of Racine and Corneille, gobbling ham and cheese, 
drinking from tall bottles, bestrewing the auditorium with the debris 
of their hasty dinners. 

As the various leaders swaggered in followed by their noisy soldiers 
bellows of welcome heralded them. Ernest de Saxe-Coburg, forget- 
ting that he was royal, took his place in the front of the balcony as 
the chandeliers were lighted and a soft glow illuminated the house. 
Honore de Balzac, his broad face still stained by the cabbage-head 
some gamin had flung at him with accurate aim, pushed his way 
toward a seat in the pit. Dumas, among the earliest to arrive, bayed 
with joy as the strange figures of the Romantics, garmented in cos- 
tumes indicating their complete break with the old conservative 
tradition, appeared in the doorway. There was Celestin Nanteuil, a 
perfect type of Jeune-France with his long blond hair floating behind 
him, the soutane-like redingote buttoned to his chin, with an air 
"inscxut? seating himself beside Jehan du Seigneur, who had adapted 
his name to the age of Villon. From a loge the pale beauty of Del- 
phine Gay glimmered through the artificial light. Petrus Borel, his 
great beard sweeping his chest, stood up and bayed like a wolf. Au- 
guste de Chatillon, Edouard Thierry, and Amedee Pommier, capes 
sweeping behind them, roared the popular chansons of the day as 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 177 

they paraded down the aisle. Joseph Bouchardy, in a blue habit with 
silver buttons and an "air oriental" and Philot^e O'Neddy, he of the 
marvellous name, marshalled their forces of "brigands dc la penste" 
like Napoleonic commanders. Augustus MacKeat, unknown to 
Dumas as yet but within ten years to be his generalissimo of collabo- 
rators under the name of Maquet, slipped on an empty wine bottle 
as he pushed his way toward a seat. A tremendous roar shook the 
chandeliers as young Theophile Gautier, clad in a rose-colored waist- 
coat and silver-grey pantaloons striped with black velvet, appeared at 
the door. He was the walking oriflamme of Jeune-France. Twilight 
deepened into the wintry darkness of evening and the traditionalists 
began to percolate through the house, haughty academicians and 
austere disciples of Lemercier and Arnault. They secured their places, 
murmuring heatedly to one another about the remnants of cervelas, 
the bits of greasy paper, and the empty bottles that littered the floor 
about them. Behind the curtain the temperamental Mademoiselle 
Mars exclaimed angrily to Victor Hugo: "J'ai jou dcvant bicn des 
publics, mais je vous dcvrai d* avoir jou^ devant cdui-lal" Outside the 
bitter cold of a ferocious winter swept the streets and a howling wind 
rushed across the frozen Seine; inside there was color and what 
extravagant color! movement and what reckless and quivering 
movement! warmth and what a furnace of leashed emotions! The 
Theatre-Frangais, that Bastille of classicism, had been transformed to 
a rocking chaos of excitement. 

The turmoil did not cease when the curtain rose and the frightened 
actors appeared upon the stage. Protestations rose from the loges and 
orchestra chairs only to be abruptly silenced from the embattled par- 
terre. At the famous scene of the portraits a tempest broke loose, 
insults were hurled back and forth, and the play was halted for ten 
minutes until the bedlam of conflicting voices simmered down to 
comparative silence. Hcrnani struggled along like a pitching vessel 
riding an angry sea. Throughout the constantly interrupted progress 
of the drama the battle continued, romanticists roaring their approval 
and classicists shrilling their hatred and disapproval at one another. 
This seething cauldron of a playhouse became a witches* monstrous 
kettle from which arose (as the eight kings rose from the cauldron 
before Macbeth) the ominous figure of Romanticism armed cap-a-pie, 



178 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

visor lowered and mailed gauntlet extended. Before this undisciplined 
audience Mademoiselle Mars, recovering the histrionic strength that 
had lifted her so high in former years, portrayed during the last acts 
so extraordinary a simulation of youth and beauty that even a por- 
tion of the traditionalist army was silenced by her genius. When the 
final curtain fell the young Romanticists noisily proclaimed their vic- 
tory. MM. Lemercier, de Jouy, Viennet, Baour-Lormain and Arnault 
were buried in the deep grave of a lost and outmoded cause. "Ccttc 
date" wrote Theophile Gautier years later of February 25, 1830, "restc 
ecrite dans le fond de notre passe en caracteres flamboyants. , . . Cettc 
soiree decida de notre viel" But victory did not come as easily as this. 
For forty-five nights the extraordinary struggle continued, Hugo fill- 
ing a hundred seats with his disciples at each performance. There 
were always interruptions and quarrels and sometimes there were 
manifestations as furious as those that took place at the premiere. 
Between one of the acts of the thirtieth representation Mademoiselle 
Mars and Hugo searched the script for those lucky lines that had not 
been hissed. They could not find one. Dumas, lost, but not silent in 
the mob of Romanticists on the opening night, must have thought 
not without pride of the first production of Henri III et sa Cour. 
That had been his triumph, a triumph that had prepared the way for 
Hernani, and, perhaps, hastened the disputed victory of the Romantics. 
They had forgotten that. But Christine and Antony would remind 
them again. 

An unexpected voice came from the sawmill at La Gare. Frederic 
Soulie, breaking his somewhat sullen silence, applied to Dumas for a 
pass to the general rehearsal of Christine. The young man, delighted 
at this evidence of a rapprochement with his stubborn old friend, lost 
no time in despatching the desired ticket. He had missed Soulie, his 
arguments, his bluff honesty, and his seasoned advice, although, in 
some ways he had outgrown his semi-discipleship to the older man. 
The circumstances that occasioned the rift between the two play- 
wrights had been simple enough both desired to write the same play. 
Souli6, a trifle contemptuous of the younger man, had underestimated 
Dumas's ability and told him to go ahead with it. Both had written 
the same play. Souli6's drama failed lamentably after eight gloomy 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 179 

performances to empty seats, and here -matter enough to lacerate any 
sensitive writer's pride was Dumas's Christine about to be produced 
on the same stage and with the same actors that had taken part in 
Soulie's d&bfalc. Hurt though he was, Soulie, unlike Achilles, refused 
to sulk too long in his tent. Troy was being besieged and die play- 
wright-sawmill-manager sniffed the battle from afar. It was necessary 
for him to be upon the field. Hcrnani still hung in the balance. The 
ateliers and cafes of Paris were echoing to threats and Gargantuan 
vaunts. Dumas was fighting on the field with Hugo and de VIgny 
and a dozen others. Souli pocketed his pride, tacitly admitted his 
mistaken judgment of the younger man, and emerged from the 
shadows. He observed the general rehearsal of Christine, noted what 
vaster opportunities Dumas had given Mademoiselle Georges and 
Ligier, and admitted, with a steadily mounting enthusiasm, what 
wonders Dumas had accomplished with the common theme. At the 
conclusion of the fifth act Dumas went somewhat timidly to pay hss 
respects to Souli. The unsuccessful dramatist stood up and held his 
arms out for the young man and Dumas embraced Jhirn with a deep 
affection. The unfortunate months of estrangement wore at an end, 

"Have you fifty places left in the pit?" Soulie asked. 

Dumas nodded. 

"Give them to me," answered Soulie. "I will send my workmen 
from the sawmill and their horny palms will furnish you a clmqwc 
that you will not forget for a long time/* 

Christine was produced on March 30, 1830, to the mingled protests 
of a well organized antagonistic claque and the approving uproar of 
Souli6's workmen. For seven hours the fate of the drama was in 
doubt Dumas, seated in a stage box, observed the inconsistent inci- 
dents of this struggle, saw his play knocked down a dozen times, and 
witnessed its final triumphant conclusion to the plaudits of an ex- 
hausted and horrified audience. Premieres in 1830 wore pitched 
battles. The young man realized as he watched and listened that 
Christine, in spite of its virtues, was a ragged and imperfect play, that 
immediate alterations were necessary, and that the unflawed victory of 
Henri III et sa Cour was not to be repeated with this second produc- 
tion* The fifth act, in which the wounded and bleeding MonaldescM 



i8o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

drags himself across the stage to the feet of the Queen and begs for 
mercy only to hear her cold: "Eh bien, j'en ai pitie, mon fere. Qu'on 
I'achevel" progressed perfectly and aroused a shuddering audience and 
recalled to Dumas the triumph of the third act of Henri 111 et sa Cour, 
but the epilogue defeated this climax. It would have to be shorn away. 
That night Dumas gave a late supper (it was practically an early 
breakfast) to a group of his friends, Hugo, de Vigny, Paul Lacroix, 
Louis Boulanger, Achille Comte, Planche, Theodore Villenave and 
Cordelier-Delanoue. Hugo and de Vigny were meeting in friendly 
intercourse for the first time since de Vigny's Othello had slipped into 
the Theatre-Frangais ahead of Hernani. The exhausted Dumas, 
wearied to death by the struggle*that had occupied the Odeon stage 
for seven hours, was incapable of doing anything except sit limply 
in his chair. The young men laughed, drank, and sang. Romantic 
toasts emptied bottle after bottle. Dumas sagged in his chair, his 
enormous vitality quiescent for once. Victor Hugo and de Vigny, 
observing him, slyly removed themselves from the chamber of festivi- 
ties and locked a door between them and the laughter. When Dumas 
woke in the morning, his friends gone and the cold debris of a festival 
littering the rooms, he observed the manuscript of Christine perched 
prominently upon the mantle. He crawled out of bed slothfully and 
picked up the play with a sigh. There were so many changes to be 
made, more than a hundred verses to be rewritten, and a rehearsal 
had been called for noon. How would he ever adjust his exhausted 
mind to it? He turned over two or three pages of the manuscript and 
put it down in amazement. Then he picked it up again and ran 
through it. All the changes had been made. While the others laughed 
and drank Hugo and de Vigny had worked for four hours in the 
locked room whipping Christine into shape. It was in this way that 
the Romantics fought before the venomous little rifts of jealousy 
parted them. 

Dumas opened his door to the midday sunlight and to Barba, the 
bookseller, who sat on the step" waiting to oiler the young dramatist 
twelve thousand francs for the manuscript of Christine. 

Women continued to complicate the life of Dumas. He was inca- 
pable of ^resisting their charms for his polygamous instincts destroyed 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION i 

his theoretical concept of fidelity. Marie-Catherine, safely installed 
Passy, was forgotten, or, if brought to mind, recollected with ; 
effort* Melanie continued to struggle lachrymosely for her lost ascc 
dency, but Dumas, having completed Antony, needed her no long 
Mademoiselle Mars, though more than fifty years of age, experieno 
moments of tenderness for the ungovernable young man. Madem< 
selle Georges sat complacently in her bathtub and lifted her whi 
arms to the gold pins in her hair, revealing, by this slow gesture, tl 
lovely contours of her body, while Dumas and other male frien 
loitered about the room and envied Napoleon. Virginie Bourbier ai 
Louise Despreaux had vanished for they were no mere than fan 
interludes in an existence tuned to tfit eternal music of many womo 
voices. Not all of Dumas's friendships with women were intimal 
He possessed his Platonic relationships as welL Amaury DuvaTs sist* 
Madame Chasseriau who lived in one of the apartments in the Ins 
tute was one of these cool and charming creatures who kept tl 
young man at arm's length, smiled at his volatile temperament, ai 
restrained his ardent nature. Marie Nodier was another. Still aaadai 
was Delphine Gay, the Muse Delphine, once the sweetheart of Alfot 
de Vigny and soon to be Madame de Girardin. With these wwm 
who laughingly guarded themselves against his ingenuous approach 
Dumas could discuss life and letters. At the same time he was fotw 
seeking the new face and the melting eyes that would respond to 1 
excessive need of I' amour. One woman unsought and mmi$pec& 
entered his life by way of a cab at one o'clock in the morning. 

It was the evening of the second performance of Chris&nc* Aft 
the fall of the curtain Dumas left the brilliantly lighted portal dE td 
Od&m, pushed his way through the congregated carriages, warn 
aside the acquaintances who hailed him, and started on foot aorc 
the darkness of the Place de FOd6on. He had not travelled far wfe 
a closed cab drew up beside him and a woman's head procnided fra 
the door. A sweet voice inquired: "Are yon Monsieur Dumas?** 11 
young man admitted the fact. "Very well," continued the voice as 
white hand opened the door of the cab. "Come inside and kiss m* 
Dumas dimbed into the cab with akcrity and found himself ^r- 
ttoe with Madame Dorval of the Porte-Saint-Martin Th^tre, a talent* 
young actress of popular r61es whose complaisance was only exceed 



182 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

by her charm. "You possess marvellous talent, and you don't draw 
women badly, either!" breathed Madame DorvaL Dumas did not 
deny it, A few weeks after this rencontre Madame Duval was refer- 
ring to Dumas as her "big bow-wow." The dramatist was often at her 
home and the charming Dorval was to be discovered frequently 
enough in Dumas's apartment stretched out on the divan like a lux- 
urious kitten and listening lazily to the conversation of the assembled 
Romantics. It was there that Alfred de Vigny first saw her and was 
instandy fascinated. Dumas saw the glow in the eyes of the ex-officer 
and smiling gayly gazed elsewhere. 

At Firmin's house one evening he stared direcdy into two large 
blue eyes. The charming stranger possessed jet black hair, a nose as 
straight as that of the Venus de Milo and teeth like pearls. She had 
been playing the "Mars parts" in the provinces and Firmin, who had 
been on tour in Henri 111 ct sa Cour, immediately induced her to 
return to Paris with him. Firmin's interest in Bell Krebsamer was 
theoretical, so to speak, so Dumas, without further thoughts of 
Melanie, Mademoiselle Georges, Madame Dorval, or anyone else, 
plunged into an amorous siege that lasted exactly as long as the siege 
of the Due d'Orleans before Anvers three weeks. At the termination 
of that gentle warfare Melanie S. (as Dumas always referred to Bell 
Krebsamer) was installed in number seven, rue de FUniversite, a few 
doors from her lover's apartment. Melanie S. undoubtedly expected a 
means of progression theatrically in this liaison and determined to 
profit by it, Melanie Waldor was now definitely succeeded although 
the frayed and cruel ends of that affair were yet to be properly tied 
together by Dumas. The young man was never quite honest about 
these matters. He was always on with the new love before he was off 
with the old. 

History began to divert Dumas's insouciant existence into revolu- 
tionary channels. On May 31, 1830, he was invited (as an afterthought 
by the son of the Due d'Orleans the Due de Chartres) to an impres- 
sive ball at the Palais-Royal where Francois, King of Naples (son of 
that Ferdinand whom Dumas accused of poisoning his father in the 
prisons of Brindisi), and Charles X appeared in all their royal plumes 
and feathers. Dumas entered the hall just before the French King 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 183 

arrived and was both vexed and humiliated when the Due d*Or!aas 
walked up to him and whispered: "If, by chance, the King honors 
you by speaking to you, you know that you must address him neither 
as Sire nor Majestt but simply as le RoL" As though he didn't know 
court etiquette! Dumas was still scowling to himself when the drums 
beat and Charles X and his retinue entered the Palais-Royal. The 
young man saw a tall and thin old gentleman with beautiful white 
hair and an ugly underlip that drooped on his chin. M. de Salvandy, 
who was present, concocted a mot that spread throughout Paris the 
next day. He whispered to the Due d'Orleans: "Monseigneur, this is 
a true Neapolitan fete, for we are dancing upon the edge of a volcano.** 
The Due's enigmatical expression never changed. He was, perhaps, 
wondering slyly to himself how far the divertissement of the Algerian 
campaign would remove Charles X from the imminent crisis of his 
reign. It was a spectacular red herring, to be sure, but would it shift 
the rancor of the disaffected young Republicans from the Tuileries? 

Dumas left the ball with a distinct grievance against the Due d'Or- 
leans and an increased Republican fervor. 

On the fourteenth of June the French army debarked on the coast 
of Algeria. A swift campaign followed. The battle of Staoueli was 
fought on the nineteenth and Fort-de-PEmpereur was taken on the 
fourth of July. Official announcement of the investment of Algiers 
was published in the Parisian journals of July ninth. The divertisse- 
ment produced no amelioration of the unrest in the capital and the 
short-sighted Polignac ministry, guided by the King, turned to the 
fatal ordinances. 

Dumas suddenly decided that he would travel to Algiers, bask for a 
while on the warm shores of the Mediterranean, and study the re- 
sources of the newly-acquired territories, the faint specter, perhaps, of 
his future Impressions dc Voyage rising in his industrious and restless 
mind. He would take Melanie S. with him, of course. Indeed, it is 
possible that this proposed journey occurred to the young man as one 
method of decisively destroying the few links that still held him to 
Melanie Waldor. It was not that he desired to run away but that he 
had sucked all the emotional stimulus he could from die old affair 
and did not feel equal to the commonplaces of a last and definite 
verbal understanding. It was much more romantic to sail to Algiers 



184 .THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

where there were black men, Mohammedans with fezes, sheiks in 
burnouses, and mysterious women with veiled faces. With this "Ara- 
bian Nights" picture in mind he started to turn his francs into gold 
and purchase clothing for the trip. 

Charles X and his government were to intervene, however. The 
ordinances were inscribed on paper, ordinances suppressing certain of 
the Literal newspapers that continued to attack the ministry, dissolv- 
ing the recently elected Chamber of Deputies before its first meeting, 
and approving a diminution of the electorate* This was tyranny and 
young men such as Cavaignac, Arago and others bestirred themselves. 
For a brief while it was thought that Charles X would not dare sign 
his own death warrant. Could not the blind old man, scrupulous as 
he was from his own royal angle, see that the minute he appended his 
signature to the ordinances he had flung his Kingdom away for a 
principle that had ceased to exist? Paris seethed and waited. The 
twenty-fifth of July fell on a Sunday and Charles X, who was installed 
in his palace at Saint-Cloud, attended mass calmly, and, afterward, 
opened the momentous meeting of the Counsel. The text of the 
ordinances was read slowly and carefully to the King. He listened, 
his ugly lower lip resting on his chin, and then, picking up the pen, 
he turned to the assembled ministers and remarked: "I am more than 
ever convinced, messieurs, that it is impossible to do anything else." 
He dipped the pen in the ink and his white hair drooped over the 
fatal pages that were laid before him. 

II 

July 26, 1830. 

Dumas, who had awakened early, was packing a large valise pre- 
paratory to setting out for the newly conquered territories of Algeria 
when there came a sharp rap at the door. Achille Comte, who had 
been running all the way and whose face was streaked with perspi- 
ration, burst into the room and flung a newspaper upon the table. 

ft Have you heard the news?" he exclaimed. 

Dumas shook his head. 

"The ordinances are announced in the Moniteurl" 

The coat he was packing dropped from Dumas's hand. He turned 
to his servant, Joseph, and cried: "Go to my gunmakef's and bring 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 185 

me back my double-barrelled gun and two hundred bullets of twenty 
caliber." Lc jour dc gloirc cst arrival Charles X had signed and pub- 
lished his own death-warrant* The lean old monarch, King Stork, 
front and flower of the Elder Branch, had flung his formidable bomb 
into the powder-magazine of Paris. Dumas and Comte descended to 
the streets, Dumas full of mingled forebodings and martial threats, 
and Comte still incredulous that Paris would rise* The city wa$ quiet. 
It lay peaceably beneath a warm sun. A yellow light dusted along the 
quais, the Seine slid noiselessly beneath the bridges, and gossiping 
pedestrians hurried by on their way to work. Now and again the 
scarlet uniform of one of the Swiss Guards shone at a high window 
of the Tuileries. The two young men breakfasted at number seven, 
rue de FUniversite, where the blue-eyed young "Mars from the 
provinces" pouted prettily when she learned that she was not to go to 
Algeria after all. Then Comte went on his way to discover further 
information and Dumas directed his steps toward the Palais-Royal, 
that presumable source of all the inside facts. But they knew nothing 
there. The Due d'Orlcans was carefully cloistered at Neuilly. The 
Due de Chartres was at the head of his regiment at Joigny- M. de 
Broval was at Villiers* M. Oudard had disappeared into thin air. M. 
Deviolaine was locked in his room. In times of crisis it is often the 
case that the scheming man who expects to profit by rebellion is 
difficult to locate. He lurks in a safe harbor until he is certain wfaidh 
way the wind is blowing. The monkey sits in the shadow while the 
cat stretches his foolish Daw into the flames for the chestnut shaped 
like a crown. 

The eyes and ears of Paris were located in the caf& as much as in 
the newspaper offices and royal establishments. Dumas, therefore, 
leaving the dumb corridors of the Palais-Royal behind him, went 
to the Cafe du Roi, a hostelry frequented by Royalist journalists* 
There he found Theaulon, Theodore Anne, Brissot, Rochefort and 
Merle, the complaisant husband of Madame Dorval, all writers conr 
nected with such conservative sheets as the Foudrc, Lc Dmpcau H&anc f 
and Quotidicnne. Lassagne, too, was there. Excepting Lassagne, this 
group approved the ordinances, and Dumas, who held different views 
from these journalists, did not care to discuss the matter. He abhorred 
disputing with his friends. It was so much easier to fight duels with 



i86 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

them. He sat by himself, then, sipping his coffee and waiting for an 
acquaintance whose political views agreed more closely with his own. 
In the meantime various idle pedestrians sauntered up and down the 
street outside the smoky window of the Cafe du RoL They talked 
calmly, seemingly unmoved by the historical consequences of the day. 
It was the lull before the storm, that period of deceptive quiet when 
the leaf hangs unmoved although the muttering wind already mani- 
fests itself on the horizon through the bent tops of distant trees. Those 
ferocious instigators of revolutions who creep out of cellars and dark 
sewers at the last minute and raise barricades were moving uneasily 
in their hidden corners, perhaps, but they had not appeared as yet. 
Paris lolled pleasantly in its bright bath of sunshine and Dumas lolled 
with it. He was aroused from his solitary reverie by fitienne Arago, 
director of the Vaudeville Theatre, who saw Dumas bowed over his 
coffee-cup and hurried him off to the Institute where Francois Arago, 
fitienne's famous brother, was scheduled to deliver an address before 
the Academy. 

The Academicians, strutting about in their blue coats braided with 
green, were like so many turkey-cocks. Dumas and fitienne Arago, 
entering the Holy of Holies somewhat late, were surprised to note 
that the meeting was not in progress and that the hall was dotted with 
small gesticulating groups of Academicians. A rumor had threaded 
the assembly that Francois Arago would refuse to speak and the more 
startled of the Immortals were retarding the meeting, Francois 
Arago, Dumas saw, was engaged in a somewhat acrimonious conver- 
sation with Marechal Marmont, Due de Raguse. Dumas and iStienne 
Arago pushed through the Academicians and reached the savant just 
as Marmont left him. "What does he say ?" Etienne asked his brother 
as he nodded his head toward the subscriber to the capitulation of 
Paris. "He is furious," replied Franjois, his eyes following the dis- 
gruntled Marechal. "He says they are the type of people who fling 
themselves in the very teeth of ruin, and he only hopes he won't be 
obliged to draw swords on their behalf." fitienne Arago snorted 
contemptuously. They were waiting at Saint-Cloud for a miracle from 
heaven, perhaps. In answer to another question Franfois Arago de- 
clared that he would not speak. Cuvier, passing at that moment, heard 
this decision and drew the savant aside. He was immediately sur- 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 187 

rounded by a group of solemnly arguing turkey-cocks, and, after 
fifteen minutes' discussion, Arago bowed his head and consented to 
speak* His address was to be on Frcsnel, famed for his work on the 
speed and nature of light, but, much to the disturbance of the Acade- 
micians who had insisted on his speaking, he injected into this sup- 
posedly scientific discourse so many burning allusions to the political 
crisis that hung like a thunder-cloud over Paris that his address became 
a clever call to arms. Dumas and Etienne Arago left the Institute 
laughing at the shocked expression on Cuvier's face. Arago went his 
way to mingle with the crowds in the streets for the revolutionary fury 
was rising in him. Dumas, after a visit with Madame Chasseriau, pro- 
ceeded toward Vefour's, the prospect of a well-spiced dinner luring him 
away from political argument. Already queer tremors were shaking 
Paris. The Bourse, that barometer of political crises, had been in an 
uproar all day and three per cent. Consols had fallen six francs. People 
were talking in louder voices and young men were hurrying down side 
streets on mysterious errands. As Dumas crossed the gardens of the 
Palais-Royal he saw a crowd eddying about some youths who stood 
on chairs reading from the Moniteur in stentorian voices. These imita- 
tions of Camille Desmoulins were not successful. The crowd listened 
complacently, gaped with mild interest and then dispersed toward 
prospective dinners. After his hurried meal Dumas ran to the dc 
Leuven home where he found Madame de Leuven greatly upset over 
the unexplained absence of her husband and son. Dumas obligingly 
set forth in search of them. The elder de Leuven was at a closed 
meeting in the offices of the Courner Franfais where the famous 
protest in the name of the Charter was being signed by forty-four 
journalists, each one of whom risked his head with his signature* 
Adolphe had been despatched to M. Laffitte's house but he had found 
the bankers' doors locked. M. Laffitte, like the Due d'OrMans, was 
waiting. By eleven o'clock Dumas was back in his rooms meditating 
on the strange calmness of the day. 

Beside his bed Joseph had placed the double-barrelled gun and two 
hundred bullets of twenty caliber. 

July 27, 1830. 

Another warm clear day with a bright sun mounting to the zenith. 



i88 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Dumas, who had waked early, hurried to his mother's rooms for 
breakfast. The poor old lady was quite tranquil in mind and body for 
no rumors of the fierce gathering storm had penetrated to her quiet 
Thebaid in the Quartier du Luxembourg. There the buxom house- 
wives sluiced the stone steps of their houses with buckets of water, 
scurried to the boulangeries for their long loaves of crisp bread, and 
uncorked the tall bottles of pale red wine. It is true that certain sober 
faces met the early pedestrian at the street corners, faces peering into 
the crumpled sheets of hastily-printed journals and then lifted with 
tightened lips, but these faces always disappeared in the direction of 
the many streets leading to the quais. Dumas, his hasty visit accom- 
plished, hurried in the direction of these streets, too, meeting Paul 
Foucher, Victor Hugo's brother-in-law. As Dumas saw Foucher, who 
laid claims to authorship, about to draw a five-act play from his pocket 
to read then and there upon the street he hurriedly hailed a cab and 
ordered the driver to carry him to Armand Carrel's house. 

Carrel, one of the editors of the National, was an unofficial leader of 
the Opposition. He had returned from political exile after the coro- 
nation of Charles X. At this time he was a young man of twenty- 
eight years with a retreating forehead, a long sharp nose, and a bilious 
complexion, generally clothed in patent leather boots, a black cravat 
tightly knotted about his neck, a black frock coat, a waistcoat of white 
pique or chamois leather, and grey trousers. Dumas found him coolly 
eating his breakfast and reading the morning paper wherein was 
printed the protest of the forty-four journalists against the illegal 
suppression of the press. It is time to set down the names of these 
forty-four guardsmen of liberty who had put their necks in danger. 
Carrel was one. The others were MM. Thiers, Gauja, Mignet, Cham- 
bolle, Peysse, Stapfer, Dubochet and Rolle of the National; Leroux, 
Guizard, Dejean and de Remusat of the Globe; Senty, Haussman, 
Dussart, Busoni, Barbaroux, Chalas, Billard. Baude and Coste of Lc 
Temps; Guyet, Moussette, Avenel, Alexis de Jussieu, Chatelain, Du- 
pont, and de la Pelouze of the Courrier franfais; Ann6e, Cauchois- 
Lemairc and fivariste Dumoulin of the Constitutionncl; Sarrans fits 
of the Courrier des Electeurs; Auguste Fabre and Ader of the Tribune 
des dtpartements; Lavasseur, Plagnol and Fazy of the Revolution; 
Larreguy and Bert of the Journal du Commerce; Leoa Fillet of the 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 189 

Journal dc Paris; Bohain and Roqueplan of Figaro; and Vaillant of 
Sylphe. These were the men who dared to speak out on the evening 
of the twenty-sixth and these were the names that Dumas read on the 
morning of the twenty-seventh. How the government would respond 
to this protest was the problem. Carrel, who had determined to stay 
indoors all day, weakened at Dumas's urgent solicitations and went 
out into the streets with him, first placing a pair of pocket pistols in 
his coat. They tramped the boulevards from the rue dc la Chauss^e- 
d'Antin to the rue Neuve-Vivienne and observed a rising excitement 
everywhere. People were rushing in the direction of the rue de Riche- 
lieu. An excited pedestrian, upon being hailed, paused long cnougi* 
to stutter that the offices of Lc Temps were being sacked by mounted 
police. It was patent that signs of insurrection were imminent. Paris, 
which had lived through the twenty-sixth with some degree of calm- 
ness, was rising like an ominous sea. The builders of barricades begaa 
to appear from their dark corners. 

Dumas and Carrel hurried to the offices of Lc Temps. Here for the 
first time the young playwright saw actual signs of revolt. This time 
it was not the spectacle of dramatically-minded youths reading news- 
papers from chairs h la Camille Desmotdins. A score of police were 
drawn up in front of the printing office and awaiting the arrival oi 
the Commissionnaire de Police. Behind this row of uniforms was an 
attentive mob. It is always the mob that makes revolutions and on 
many of the faces in this gathering was that ominous fiusb that 
prophesies ruin to governments and dynasties. The hour, howwtr, 
was early as yet. Monsieur le Commissionnaire de Police arrived, whi&e 
scarf of office, sword and all, and knocked solemnly si the printing 
house door. As he knocked the door opened and framed in the portal 
stood Baude, one of the editors of Le Temps. Baudc was a formidable 
apparition, a giant with thick black hair and a rough tremendous 
voice. Behind him were lined up his thirty or f orty editors and printers, 
men with set faces and glittering eyes. A dead silence fell upon the 
street and two thousand people breathed so softly that this tableau, 
the first dramatic scene of the Revolution of 1830, seemed like an array 
of waxen figures, a scene misplaced from the galleries of Madame 
Tussaud, Baude spoke first, his rough voice grating the air. "What 
do you want, Monsieur?" Monsieur le Commissionnaire de Police 



ipo THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

stuttered his answer. "I come . - . in consequence ... the Ordi- 
nances ..." "To break up our presses?" roared Baude. "Then in 
the name of the Code which is both anterior and superior to the 
Ordinances I call upon you to respect them." Those metal monsters of 
liberty, the printing presses, stood in their stalls and waited. Baude 
held forth a copy of the Code opened at the article on housebreaking. 
Monsieur le Commissionnaire de Police turned uneasily. "A lock- 
smith," he said. "Send somebody to find a locksmith." "We will wait 
until he comes/' replied Baude. A murmur rippled across the atten- 
tive crowd and it pushed closer to the police. The locksmith arrived. 
Monsieur le Commissionnaire de Police gave his order and the trem- 
bling fellow approached the printing house doors to force them. 
Baude Barred his way. He halted him by reading the article on 
housebreaking from the Code. The locksmith hesitated and then 
bared his head. A cheer went up from the crowd. Monsieur le Com- 
missionnaire de Police reiterated his order to the bewildered artisan. 
Baude called for witnesses to this potential violence and five hundred 
voices responded simultaneously. The locksmith, hearing this growl- 
ing approval of Baude, exclaimed: "Get somebody else to do your 
job," and disappeared in the mob. A second locksmith was secured 
but as the police pushed him through the crowd he dexterously 
slipped his picklocks into the hands of a spectator. These keys were 
passed from person to person and disappeared forever. Finally a 
blacksmith was summoned. The mob, surging closer and closer to 
this comedy with tragic implications, awakened the fear of Monsieur 
le Commissionnaire de Police and he ordered his men to clear the 
street. The spectators were forced toward the Place Louvois and the 
Arcade Colbert but as they slowly retreated they shouted, "Vive la 
Charter Measured steps were heard and a large reinforcement of 
police was observed approaching from the direction of the Palais- 
Royal. Dumas and Carrel withdrew with the mob. They had wit- 
nessed enough. The moral victory remained with the Opposition. 
Baude had set the tune to which Paris would dance for three days. 

The two young men entered the National offices at two o'clock. 
The people in the streets were still quiet but a shiver of excitement 
permeated Ac atmosphere and the pedestrians walked faster, expe- 
riencing that instinctive terror which animals feel at the imminence 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 191 

of a storm. At seven o'clock in the evening, Dumas, who had been 
wandering about with Carrel after leaving the National offices, was 
at the top of the rue Montmartre when he stopped suddenly and 
lifted his head. From the direction of the Palais-Royal came a curious 
muttering sound as though a gigantic rattle had been suddenly 
whirred. "What is that ?" he exclaimed. Carrel's face grew pale. "It 
was a volley being fired," he replied. The obsequies of the Elder 
Branch were being played on muskets. A hot summer twilight en- 
veloped the city and into it mounted a sulphurous puff of smoke. 
Carrel prudently went home but Dumas dashed off at a run toward 
the Place de la Bourse. He encountered his medical friend, Thibaut, 
before he had gone fifty yards and Thibaut explained what had hap- 
pened. A man had been killed in the rue du Lycee and three more 
in the me Saint-Honore. The Lancers had charged in the rue de 
Richelieu and upon the Place du Palais-Royal. A barricade had been 
demolished in the rue de Richelieu. A barricade! The ominous 
figures had come out of their dark corners at last. 

Dumas started toward the rive gauche but as he entered the rue 
Vivienne he saw the long slant of bayonets approaching from the 
other end. The troops advanced with regular steps, taking up the 
whole width of the street, and forcing men, women and children 
before them. Marechal Marmont, Due de Raguse, was investing Paris 
for His Majesty, Charles X, who was playing whist at Saint-Cloud. 
Dumas sought protection in the cafe of the Theatre de$ Nouveatsts 
and there he peered through the windows and watched the soldiers 
pass and heard the women cry from the windows, "Do not fire on the 
people!" The troops reached the Place de la Bourse, deployed, and left 
a dozen soldiers in a rickety old guardhouse near the Bourse. To 
grumbling drums the regiment disappeared in the direction of the 
Place de la Bastille. No sooner had they gone than urchins ran up 
to the guardhouse shouting, "Vive la Charter The soldiers paid no 
attention. Soon stones followed the shouting and a soldier, infuriated 
at being struck in the head by a rock, fired his musket off and killed 
a young woman who was loitering on the opposite side of the Place 
dc la Bourse. Cries of "Murder!" resounded, lights were extinguished, 
shops shut and shutters snapped into place, and in a twinkling the 
square was cleared. At that moment a group of perhaps a dozen men 



192 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

debouched from the rue des Fillcs-Saint-Thomas shouting, "Stop the 
plays! Close the theaters! They are killing people in the streets of 
Paris!" This miniature revolution was headed by fitienne Arago, 
They stumbled against the body of the dead woman which lay across 
the street. Arago ordered the corpse carried to the steps of the peri- 
style of the Theatre des Nouveautes where everybody might see it. 
The body was taken to this high brilliantly-lighted bier and then the 
shouting group marched down the rue de Montmorency. That eve- 
ning Arago was instrumental in closing most of the theaters of Paris. 

Dumas and his few companions lurked behind the dusty panes 
of the cafe of the Theatre des Nouveautes and discussed the agitation 
that was causing Paris to quiver like a giant in a first attack of epilepsy. 
One young theorist put forward the proposition that the uprising 
would prove as abortive as that of 1827. Another logician demon- 
strated to his own satisfaction that the riot had not the strength to 
develop into a revolution. Dumas shook his head. This discussion was 
abruptly terminated by the crash of muskets in the immediate vicinity, 
shouts, and the terrible sounds of hand-to-hand combat. From the 
windows Dumas and the contemptuous logicians saw that the rickety 
guardhouse had been assaulted by a score of strange nocturnal figures, 
ape-like men with fowling pieces, unshaven faces and fierce eyes. The 
makers of revolutions had appeared at last. These men, horrible phan- 
toms of 1789, overpowered the troops of the Due de Raguse, took away 
their guns, cartridge-pouches and swords, and sent them away by the 
rue Joquelet. Then they set fire to the guardhouse, picked up the 
limp corpse of the woman from the peristyle of the theater, and set 
off down the rue des Filles-Saint-Thomas bearing the body before 
them and shouting, "Vengeance !" The rickety building burned most 
of the night, throwing a lurid illumination over the square and light- 
ing brown-red puddles that coagulated between the cobbles. The 
logicians of the caf 6 of the Theatre des Nouveautes were silent. 

Toward midnight Dumas left the cafe and went down the rue 
Vivicmne. The Perron Passage was closed so he continued his home- 
ward march by way of the rue des Petits-Champs and the rue de 
Richelieu. It was dark in the city. It was quiet. In the distance the 
flare of the burning guardhouse lighted the high roofs. As the young 
man walked swifdy through the rue de 1'Echelle he saw silent shadows 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 193 

moving in the obscurity, shadows which cried, "Qui vivcl* 9 when he 
approached them. "A friend/* replied the young man. He heard the 
faint click of picks and saw these nocturnal creatures hurrying to and 
fro with huge cobble-stones in their arms. They were raising a barri- 
cade, raising it so silently that they seemed like figures moving in a 
dream. They labored steadily without speaking, Dumas continued on 
his way. In the court of the Tuileries campfires were burning and 
their fitful glow illuminated stacks of muskets from which bloomed 
the long silver blossoms of bayonets. By the gates a sentinel cried out 
hoarsely, "Keep away!" and cocked his gun. Having reached the rue 
de rUniversite without meeting another living soul the young man 
looked back. The silence seemed alive as though invisible creatures 
were sliding stealthily through empty streets. 

July 28, 1830. 

Dumas was awakened by Achilla Comte who brought word that 
the Quartier des Ecoles was in a state of open insurrection* The 
students, furious at the dilatory tactics of such men as Laffitte, the 
banker, Casimir P6rier, the statesman, and La Fayette, the old hero, 
were out en masse, their pockets crammed with gunpowder. They 
demanded action and they refused to permit the revolution to simmer 
down to a mere riot because of tentative Liberal leaders. It was the 
destruction of Royalty they demanded and the establishment of a 
Republic. Laffitte might hide behind the locked doors of his house 
and wait to see which way the cat jumped; Casimir Perier might keep 
one rolling eye on Saint-Cloud and temporize; La Fayette, the father 
of revolutions who had known Washington, argued with Franklin 
and denounced Marat, might wait vainly and impatiently for either 
the deputies or the people to call him into action; the students were 
prepared to take matters into their own hands and kill a few Royalists. 
Dumas, tired of the role of a spectator, prepared for action. He was a 
hot young Republican now and no longer a dependent on the Due 
d'Or!6ans. After making his usual morning call on Madame Dumas 
he attempted to see Godefroy Cavaignac, brother of that General 
Eugene Cavaignac who was to be dictator of France for a few months 
during the Revolution of 1848, but he could not find him. Cavaignac, 
like all the young leaders, was here, there and everywhere. Dumas 



194 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

gave up the search after wandering about the city for an hour or two 
and returned to his rooms in the rue de FUniversite. There he put 
on a brand-new costume de chassc, stuffed his pockets with shot, slung 
his powder-horn on his shoulder, picked up his gun and started forth 
to advance the cause of liberty. Dumas, the revolutionist, had his 
comic side. Changing his clothes in order to kill somebody was proof 
of it 

In the street outside his door he encountered the indefatigable 
fitienne Arago and Gauja, one of the forty-four journalists who had 
signed the famous protest, going from house to house and hoarsely 
calling the citizens to arms. These two men were excellent echoes of 
1789. While they were hammering with the butts of their muskets at 
closed portals two mounted policemen, their brass trappings glittering, 
turned the corner. Arago and Gauja fired at them and one of the 
policemen fell pierced by two balls while the other, wheeling his horse 
until it reared violently, disappeared in a cloud of dust. Decidedly this 
was revolution. Dumas, observing the sudden death of the officer of 
the law, grew pale and contemplative. He clutched his gun tighter 
as Arago and Gauja continued on their way shouting, "To arms, 
citoycnsl" A group of neighbors gathered about Dumas, lured by 
his brilliant hunting costume, and tacitly put themselves under his 
leadership. The young man observed his weaponless detachment 
and became inflamed with the mob passion. He ordered them to 
raise barricades at each end of the rue de PUniversite and in a second 
they were at work, uprooting huge cobble-stones with crowbars and 
carrying them to the extremities of the street. As they labored they 
could hear the drums beating in the gardens of the Tuileries. The 
grumbling tattoo was like a gigantic voice calling. Shouting students 
could be heard swarming in die nearby streets. Over the Cite rose 
a pall of smoke and mingled in it were voices, the clatter of hoofs, 
stray shots, and the eternal grumble of drums. There are no revolu- 
tions without drums. 

Dumas and his neighbors perspired and swore as they dragged the 
huge cobbles to the barricades. Suddenly three soldiers of the Garde 
Royalc appeared at the top of the rue du Bac and Dumas, seeing 
them, shouted: "Here are three rifles. All you have to do is take 
them/* The miniature army surrounded the bewildered soldiers who 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 195 

gave up their guns readily enough. These guns were unloaded but 
that made no difference. A second later a group of vociferating 
students led by a young man dressed in an apple-green frock coat 
appeared at the end of the rue de PUniversite. This young man was 
Alexandre Bixio, the medical student who was sometimes to be seen 
at Charles Nodier's salon on Sunday evenings. He carried a service 
rifle. The two groups, Dumas's army and Bixio's students, fraternized 
at once and all set to work on the barricades. When two fairly sturdy 
walls were raised closing the street at either end, Dumas, calmly 
deserting his army, set forth in search of new worlds to conquer. He 
prowled round by way of the Place de la Revolution and traversed 
the entire length of the rue Saint-Honor^. He saw that the barricades 
in the rue de I'fichelle and the rue des Pyramides had been smashed 
down. When he reached the rue de Richelieu he saw a regiment, its 
facings glittering, at the top of the Place Louvois, a dense line of 
troops at the further side of the Palais-Royal and a squadron of 
Lancers in the Place itself. Clad in his hunting costume and carrying 
a gun he could go no farther without getting into trouble. He, there- 
fore, slipped into his old offices at the Palais-Royal, and while watch- 
ing the passing troops from the window, upset poor M. Oudard, who 
had returned to his desk, by fiery comments and threats to shoot 
General Wall who was riding by. The regiments disappeared in the 
direction of the Hotel dc Ville from whence the sound of heavy firing 
could be heard. Dumas descended to the street, and, shouldering his 
gun, quietly proceeded along behind the thudding feet of the soldiers. 
The rue de Richelieu was in a turmoil. Behind the soldiers poured 
the revolutionaries, blotting out the fleurs de lys, the royal monograms, 
and daubing with mud the mottoes on the walls. The fierce cry of 
"Vive la Charter was succeeded by "A bos les Bourbons!" Armed 
men, mostly young and with the marks of the tcdcs upon than, 
slid around corners, swirled in groups, and sought tactical positions 
from which they could make a stand. Soldiers of the National Guard 
lurked behind shop doors. Women screamed from windows and 
waved their handkerchiefs. Nobody walked; everybody ran. No one 
spoke calmly; words were jerked out in half-finished expressions. A 
universal fever swept through this street. Chaos had sprung up in 
an hour. Dumas, his heart in his mouth, hurried through the gestioi- 



196 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

lating mob of men. He was pushed to right and left but he clutched 
his gun and doggedly proceeded on his way. He met Armand Carrel 
and conversed with him for a moment. He encountered Charras, of 
the Ecole Polytechnique, who was one of the field commanders 
of the day. He called at the Cafe de la Porte Saint-Honore, still con- 
ducted by young Hiraux, and learned that the Due de Raguse had 
offered his services to Charles X and was in personal command of 
the troops in Paris. When he reached the Place de la Revolution he 
stopped short in stupefaction. No, it was not a dream. 

The tricolor was floating from one of the high squat towers of 
Notre-Dame de Paris! 

This wisp of color, red and white and blue, which Dumas had not 
seen since 1815, caused him to stop and lean against the parapet. All 
the noble memories of the Revolution and the Empire rushed back 
into his mind. Flag of Arcola! Flag of Marengo! Flag of Auster- 
litz! Colors that crowned the tricorned hats of Danton and Robes- 
pierre and Saint- Just! He was aroused from his martial revery by 
a clattering fusillade from the Greve side of the square and raising 
his head he saw sulphurous smoke rising in dense clouds. He heard 
the screams of wounded horses and the shouting of men, that fero- 
cious baying that is always the annunciation of sudden death. As he 
stood by the parapet clutching his gun, a trifle confused and uncertain 
which way to turn, grimy figures began to collect about him, youths 
carrying guns, ancient pistols, rusty swords, hatchets, and one or two 
of the immemorial pikes. "Will you lead us?" one of them asked. 
The infant revolution, bewildered, not knowing which way to go, 
whom to kill, or what to destroy, was still searching for leaders. 
Dumas shouldered his gun and marched off across the Pont de la 
Revolution followed by his motley troops. He went through the rue 
de Lille carefully avoiding the Orsay barracks which commanded the 
quai. The drums of the National Guard were beating the rappel 
before he reached the rue de 1'Universite. At his house he stopped 
and halted his army which now consisted of some fifty men, two 
drums, and a hastily manufactured banner. Thirty of these men 
possessed rifles but there was not ten cartridges among them. Some- 
thing had to be done. Still followed by his detachment he forced his 
way into a nearby armourer's shop and was informed there that a 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 197 

certain Monsieur at the small gate of the Institute in the rue Mazarine 
was distributing powder. Off started the little army again and at the 
place indicated they received a dozen charges of powder each. At 
Joubert's, in the Dauphine passage, they were given fifty bullets. That 
meant about two balls to each gun. There was also Providence to 
trust. 

Inefficiently armed but ready and eager Dumas's army now turned 
toward the field of action. They progressed toward the Place de 
Greve by way of the rue Guengaud, the Pont Neuf, and the Quai 
de PHorloge. Ahead of them sounded the ominous music of musketry 
and cannon. The nearer Dumas approached this terrible symphony 
the higher his heart climbed into his throat. Suddenly debouching 
upon the Quai aux Fleurs at the head of his troops Dumas found 
himself face to face with an entire regiment. It was the Fifteenth 
Light Infantry. Dumas looked at his fifty men with their thirty guns 
and fifty rounds of ammunition and then at the fifteen hundred stolid 
troopers who stood at rest, their muskets grounded, their pouches 
bulging with ammunition. He decided to stop. A captain advanced 
from die regiment to meet him. "What is your business, Monsieur?** 
the officer inquired politely. "A passage, if you please," answered 
Dumas. The officer smiled. "Where are you going ?" "To the 
H6tel de Ville." The officer's smile grew broader. "What to do?" 
"Why . . . why, to fight!" exclaimed Dumas. The captain burst 
into a roar of laughter. "Really, Monsieur Dumas," he said, "I didn't 
think you as mad as that." Dumas, slightly surprised and immensely 
pleased that the Captain recognized him, returned to his grumbling 
army. A council of war, well out of gunshot of the Fifteenth Light 
Infantry, took place. "Upon my word," complained one of Dumas's 
young men, "Do we or do we not wish to go where there is fighting?" 
"We do," was the response. "All right. Let us go down the rue du 
Harlay, the quai des Orfevres and return to the Pont Notre-Dame by 
the rue de la Draperie and the rue de la Cit." A moment later the 
smiling Captain watched the ragged little army reascending the Quai 
de THorloge, both drums beating loudly and the manufactured banner 
waving proudly. At its head marched a tall young man with a bushy 
mop of crisp hair. 



198 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

A quarter of an hour later Dumas and his followers issued forth 
by the little street of Glatigny and found the revolutionaries about 
to charge the Hotel de Ville by way of the suspension bridge. Smoke 
billowed over the yellow river and here and there on the grey cobbles 
lay curious heaps of clothing that sometimes twitched. Dumas ordered 
the charge beaten upon his two drums and hastened forward. Bridge 
of Clausen! Horatius Cocles! Was he the son of his father or not? 
He could see the insurgents marching toward the bridge boldly fol- 
lowing a tricolor standard. Suddenly a cannon was fired. No sooner 
had the terrific detonation sounded than the bridge was raked by 
grapeshot and eight or ten insurgents pitched upon their faces. The 
disordered revolutionaries fell back. With indescribable rapidity the 
cannon was reloaded and fired again. This time the bridge became 
a shambles of wounded and dead. Still these mad men pushed for- 
ward. But when the cannon belched flame and grapeshot for the third 
time and regular troops advanced with fixed bayonets that glittered 
like a dragon's long teeth through the smoke the revolutionaries 
broke rank, turned in a riot of fear and fled in all directions. Behind 
them sounded the roar of the cannon and the clatter of musketry fire. 
Dumas, already in the network of small streets and running as fast 
as his long legs could carry him, forgot all about his command. 
Bridge of Clausen, indeed! He decided that he had done enough for 
one day, that after all he was a novice so far as war was concerned. 
He proceeded to call on his friend, Lethiere, and drank some rum- 
arrack, excellent for palpitations of the heart* There he stayed and 
listened to the news as it was brought by various friends. Fighting 
was going on in all the arrondissements. The boulevards were in 
flame from the Madeleine to the Bastille. Half the trees had been 
cut down for barricades. In the faubourg and in the rue de Saint- 
Antoine the people had flung furniture from the windows upon the 
heads of the troops arriving from Vincennes. Bedsteads, cupboards, 
chests of drawers, fire-dogs, even a piano, were rained upon the heads 
of the crushed soldiery. The attack in the Louvre district had 
advanced as far as the Place Samt-Germain-PAuxerrois. Dumas, sip- 
ping his rum-arrack peaceably, listened to all this with the equanimity 
of a retired hero. It seemed that the members of the Chamber of 
deputies were beginning to arouse themselves. It was about time. 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 199 

Five deputies were to wait upon the Due de Raguse and lay certain 
propositions before him. These representatives were MM. Laffittc, 
Casimir Perier, Mauguin, Lobau and General G&rard. Temporising 
deputies! Men who negotiated with the scoundrels who were firing 
grapeshot through the streets of Paris! Dumas discarded his equa- 
nimity and waxed loudly Republican. When nine o'clock sounded 
and it was properly dark he proceeded home by narrow alleys and 
side streets, changed his clothes, put away his gun, and once more 
became the young playwright. He could not stay indoors, however* 
He decided to call on General La Fayette whom he knew slightly. 
Wrapping his cloak about him he descended to the streets again. 
The gates of the Tuileries and the Carrousel were closed and before 
them were posted sentries. The square of the Carrousel had been 
transformed into a huge camp where thousands of phantoms appeared 
to be sleeping upon their arms. The bells of Notre-Dame continued 
to ring ceaselessly as though some mad Quasimodo were swinging on 
them. Pedestrians were few and there was no traffic. The barricades 
had stopped that. In the dark corners and shuttered tapis-francs the 
gnomes of the revolution gathered and talked in low voices. Dumas 
saw La Fayette. The old patriot was uneasy for he had determined 
to leave the deputies. "Why not move without them?" asked Dumas. 
"Let the people drive me to it and I am willing to act,** replied 
La Fayette. The old man seemed to be reaching for a sword. Dumas 
ran to the house of fitienne Arago where he found most of the revo- 
lutionary leaders gathered. He told them what La Fayette had said 
and Arago rose to his feet and exclaimed: **Come^ let us go to the 
National." At the newspaper office a sublime forgery was in progress* 
Taschereau, Charles Teste and Branger were concocting a Pronsiofiai 
Government consisting of La Fayctte, General Gerard and the Due 
de Choiseul. A proclamation was created and these three men's names 
were solemnly signed at the bottom of it. La Fayette, General G&ard 
and the Due de Choiseul slept calmly during the night of the twenty- 
eighth, profoundly unaware that they were members of a Provisional 
Government or that they had issued a proclamation. They would 
find that out the next morning when they gazed upon the hoardings 
of Paris, Midnight came; the bells of Notre-Dame continued to ring; 
sentries plodded up and down before the Tuileries; the Swiss 



2 oo THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Guards slept on their arms; the few lights were extinguished. There 
was nothing for Dumas to do but return home, go to bed, and wait 
for the sun. 

July 29, 1830. 

Dumas turned uneasily in his bed. A giant voice was speaking in 
his dreams and the sonorous accents were indistinguishable. What 
was the giant saying? Dumas opened his eyes to the sunlight and 
his ears to the roar of musketry at the same time. Joseph, his servant, 
was running about the room and wringing his hands in fear. The 
firing, not intermittent but fierce and sustained, seemed to be in the 
immediate neighborhood, around the corner, in the street outside 
the window. It was everywhere. The acrid odor of gunpowder per- 
meated the air. Volumes of smoke rose over the rue du Bac, the rue 
ISaint-Dominique, and the Place Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin. The rumble 
of ferocious voices tore through the morning air. Dumas sat up in 
bed. Of course! The Museum of Artillery in the Place Saint-Thomas- 
d'Aquin! A military post had been stationed there and the revolu- 
tionists were assaulting it. As the young man dressed hastily he 
thought of the archaeological treasures in the Museum of Artillery, 
the armor, the guns, the swords, the metal memorials of Henri III, 
Henri IV, and Louis XIII. The wretches! They would pillage all of 
those beautiful objects and fling them into the streets or smash them 
to pieces. One of the first gestures of revolutions was to destroy the 
evidences of past history, the dreaming edifices of ancient times, the 
pathetic remnants of vanished glories. For an instant Dumas was an 
anti-revolutionist. He darted toward the Place Saint-Thomas d'Aquin 
and reached it just as the insurgents were being repulsed for the third 
time. These men, devoid equally of fear and tactics, were attacking 
the Museum by the two openings of the rue du Bac and the rue Saint- 
Dominique, and as the soldiers stationed in the building could rake 
these two streets easily the undisciplined offence was futile. Dumas 
looked at the houses about him. He judged that the buildings in the 
rue du Bac, which on both sides formed the comer of the rue Gribau- 
val, backed on the Place Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin. He communicated 
this information to a group of powder-blackened men who had paused 
near him and in an instant they were hammering with their muskets 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 201 

at the doors of thirty-five, rue du Bac After a pause the door opened 
and a dozen men dashed up the narrow flights of stairs to the attia 
This room, or, rather, skeleton of a room, formed a natural bastioo 
not a Bastion Saint-Gervais, for it was not so exposed and from it 
Dumas and his companions fired with deadly effort through the 
nearby windows of the Museum of Artillery. Five or six troopers, 
unaware of this attack from an unexpected quarter, fell and after ten 
minutes the rattle of musketry dwindled and died away* A short 
while later the porter of the Museum appeared at the door plainly 
gesticulating that the soldiers had withdrawn. Dumas and his com- 
panions raced down stairs, vaulted the back fences, and made for the 
Museum, 

The insurgents were already pouring through the corridors of this 
home of the past, men with stained faces, bloody hands, and smoking 
muskets. "For God's sake!" cried Dumas, "respect the armor!" The 
insurgents laughed. It was for the armor and weapons they had 
attacked the Museum. What did they know or care about the past! 
It was the future that concerned them. Grasping hands reached up 
and wrenched spears, pikes, swords, arquebuses, helmets and obsolete 
guns from the walls. Dumas decided that the only thing for him to 
do was to make away with the most precious objects he could find 
and restore them to the nation after the madness of the revolution 
was over. He, therefore, seized the shield, helmet and sword of 
Francois Premier, the arquebus which Charles IX had used so effec- 
tively from the balcony of the Louvre on St. Bartholomew's Day, and 
staggered from the Museum with the helmet on his bushy hair, tfae 
shield fastened to his arm, the long sword by his side, and the ar^tie- 
bus over his shoulder. His appearance was startling and people^ 
observing him pass solemnly to the rue de rUniversk^ were uncertain 
whether a ghost had been disinterred from the Museum or a strange 
and outlandish army had descended on Paris. Dumas puffed up his 
four flights of stairs thinking that if Francois Premier had really 
carried this shield and worn this helmet at Marignan there was no 
reason to disbelieve in the feats of Ogier the Dane and Roland, 

An hour later Dumas was in the Place de TOd6on where the revo- 
lutionary forces were being marshalled. The Place was bristling with 
arms. There were men with heavy old-fashioned rampart guns stolen 



202 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

from the Museum of Artillery, men dragging cannon captured from 
various military posts, men driving carriages heaped with barrels of 
gunpowder, and men moulding bullets out of nearby lead-gutters, 
At one time the cry, "Paper is wanted for wads," resounded and an 
instant later from all the open windows about the Place poured down 
an avalanche of books. Dumas received a terrific blow on the head 
from a Gradus ad Parnassum. What the Cumaean Sibyl would 
have made of this is a mystery. About a hundred old soldiers were 
scattered through this mob, and, practical fellows that they were, in 
less than an hour they had manufactured three thousand cartridges. 
During this period of preparation there was continual shouting. "Vive 
la Republique!" "Vive la Chartel" One individual started to bellow, 
"Vive Napoleon 111" and, when reproved by others with the explana- 
tion that they were not fighting for Napoleon but for the Republic, 
rejoined that he would fight for whom he pleased. A man in a 
buttoned-up grey coat, a tricorne hat, and holding one hand behind 
his back, rode across the Place on a white horse, and, as a joke, some 
wags began to shout, "Vive I'Empercur!" An old lady of seventy, 
half-blind, took the joke seriously and fell on her knees crying: "Oh, 
Jesus! I shall not die, then, without seeing him again." Finally, 
ammunition being distributed, guns loaded, and captains chosen, the 
entire mob set off down the rue de POdeon singing La Marseillaise. 
At the Bussy crossing they were divided into three detachments, one 
proceeding toward the rue Sainte-Marguerite, another to the rue 
Dauphine, and the third, to which Dumas attached himself, straight 
ahead. The purpose of this group was to attack the Louvre by way 
of the Pont des Arts, in other words to run straight upon the horns 
of the bull. When this detachment debouched on the quai an ominous 
spectacle presented itself to Dumas. 

Before him with only the narrow Seine between towered the grey 
bulk of the palace of Catherine de Medicis. From every window 
leaned two of the Swiss Guard with levelled rifles. A rampart of mat- 
tresses had been raised on the Charles IX balcony and behind it 
crouched a squad of the Guards. Through the gratings of the two 
gardens, the garden of the Infante and the garden of the Queen, were 
double lines of Swiss drawn up in battle array. Along the parapet 
wound a great snake of cuirassiers glittering with steel and gold, its 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 203 

head already in the Tuileries gate while its tail still undulated tihroo^h 
the Quai de Fficolc. In the distance stood the Louvre Colonnade 
almost hidden by a cloud of smoke. On the right rose the solid 
towers of Notrc-Dame with the tricolor flying from their balconies. 
The vibrations of the tocsin quivered in the air. High above burned 
a fiery sun. From all the houses along the quais sounded a desultory 
crackle of rifle-fire. Dumas paled when he faced this spectacle but 
he countermarched at the order of his captain and proceeded along 
the quai by the Palais Mazarin as far as a small guardhouse. There 
he tried to crawl under a turnstile shelter but the coming and going 
of many excited men disturbed him and after he had been stepped 
on five or six times he crawled out and scuttled for the fountain, 
installing himself behind the largest bronze lion he could find. The 
great entrance gate of the Palais Mazarin was on his right and on his 
left was the small side door in the Institute leading up to the apart- 
ments of the people who resided there, among them Madame Chas- 
seriau. Directly before him was the empty stretch of the Pont des 
Arts and in the center of the further end of the bridge was a cannon. 
Dumas drew out his handkerchief, mopped his forehead, and medi- 
tated on the solidity of his bronze lion. Behind the cannon was the 
undulating regiment of cuirassiers and behind them again were the 
Swiss Guards in their red coats with white lace facings and bear-skin 
caps with gilded plates. Dumas gazed yearningly toward the small 
door of the Institute. Then he looked at the revolutionaries about him* 
For the most part they were street boys, shop-men and students. 
The older men (and all erf them were young) carried muskets and 
fowling pieces while the boys brandished sabres as large as them- 
selves, rusty bayonets, and pistols. It was these boys erf the streets, 
gamins de la revolution, who formed the vanguard of every attadL 
Their ragged garments fluttered behind them as they rushed upon 
death shouting for a cause which they barely comprehended. M. de 
Launay had heard their shrill voices in the courtyard of the Bastille 
on July 14, 1789. It was these boys who swarmed upon the Pont des 
Arts when the revolutionary drums beat the charge directly after the 
cuirassiers had disappeared within the Tuileries gate. Flourishing 
their rusty sabres and discharging their pistols they raced furiously 
toward the black mouth of the cannon before them. Dumas, behind 



204 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

his lion, saw the lighted match approach the touchhole of the big gun 
and strove to make himself as small as possible. There came the fierce 
shattering detonation and a spray of grapeshot raked the bridge leav- 
ing in its murderous wake a heap of crumpled and twitching bodies. 
The Swiss Guards immediately opened a platoon-fire and the attackers, 
such as were left with the use of their legs, fell back in screaming 
disorder before this hail of bullets. Some of the revolutionists leaped 
from the bridge and could be seen an instant later swimming in the 
yellow waters of the Seine. Then a huge pall of smoke descended 
upon the river and hid from Dumas's view the besieged Palace and 
its defenders. Through this smoke from time to time came the vivid 
flash of the cannon. Bullets spattered against the bronze lion while 
Dumas fired as fast as he could into the curdling curtain of smoke. 
At his feet gasped a revolutionist who had been shot through the 
lungs and who had crawled painfully toward the fountain for water 
only to collapse exhausted just beyond the brink. At the third detona- 
tion of the huge gun the young man, observing that the insurgents 
were fleeing past him toward the rue Mazarine, the rue des Petits- 
Augustins, and the blind alley skirting the Mint, decided that he had 
fought for liberty long enough. There was the door to the Institute 
and upstairs was the gentle-voiced Madame Chasseriau. Drawing his 
head as deeply between his shoulders as he could he ducked for this 
door, burst through, slammed it behind him, and raced upstairs. 

Comfortably ensconced in a soft-cushioned chair and with a bottle 
of Bordeaux and a huge bowl of chocolate before him Dumas rested 
like Hannibal in Capua and regaled Madame Chasseriau with a lurid 
narrative of the day's happenings. Then he went away by the little 
gate in the rue Mazarine and returned home to change his shirt. It 
would be unfair to assert that Dumas was a coward for he gave many 
evidences of stout courage during his life. The truth was that he was 
a theoretical Republican with a decided aversion to violence although 
the *|>ectaelc of violence could always arouse the dramatic instinct in 
hinL He could be as picturesque as anybody during a revolution, 
swashbuGkle Hkc a second Captain Boabdil, carry a gun, even fire it 
when he was behind a protecting lion, and venture into fairly dan- 
gerous ground; but when it came to rushing into the cannon's mouth 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 205 

that was another matter. It took men like Arago, Cavaignac, and 
Charras to do that 

Dumas, installed in his rooms, had completed his toilet, washed 
the powder-stains from his face and hands, and draped himself in an 
elegant new shirt when he heard shouting in the rue de rUnivcrsit& 
Popping his head out the window he turned his eyes toward the 
Tuileries gardens and there he saw what seemed to be thousands of 
white pigeons turning over and over in the bright sunlight and flut- 
tering toward the earth. These white pigeons were the correspondence 
of Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Charles X being scattered from the 
windows to the four winds of the earth. The Tuileries had been 
taken. The Revolution of 1830 was an accomplished fact. Henceforth 
July 29, 1830, would take its place among historical dates. Dumas 
put on his coat and made his way toward the quais. He passed the 
bronze lion with an affectionate glance, stepped carefully over the 
dead bodies that littered the Pont des Arts and attached himself to 
the long column of citizens who were pushing through the Tuileries 
gate. From the center pavilion floated the tricolor in place of the 
white standard of the Bourbons that had fluttered there for fifteen 
years. 

The interior of the Tuileries presented a scene of indescribable con- 
fusion. The corridors and state chambers were crowded with a ges- 
ticulating, shouting mass of powder-blackened men and glittering- 
eyed women. They surged through the vast halls and rooms fingering 
everything, stopping to gape at the portraits, scraping their muddy 
feet on the heavy carpets, leaving dark stains on the woodwork and 
marks of blood on the balustrades of the stairs. Friend called to friend 
in triumph. On the throne of France a student with a bullet through 
his chest had been laid and his blood ran down the embroidered 
ftcurs dc lys and formed a pool on the dak During the day more 
than ten thousand people were to sit upon this throne of Charles X 
and scream with laughter as they did so. The mob, its passions lib- 
erated, poured through the throne-room to the King's private sttidy 
where the rifled secretaries stood with broken drawers and from there 
to the bed-room where unmoitionable acts were performed on the 
King^s great bed to the c&scenc shrieks of bystanders. The Salk <fe$ 
Mar6chaux was a dia of noise and thumping feet A dozen students 



206 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

were shooting at the portrait of the Due de Raguse and balls had 
pierced the likeness through the head and the breast. Dumas, pushed 
along by the mob, was shoved into the library of the Duchesse de 
Berry and there, much to the gratification of his vanity, he discovered 
a copy of Christine bound in purple morocco and stamped with the 
arms of the Duchesse. He shoved it into his pocket without a word. 
Then he fought his way back toward the courtyard, stumbling through 
the congested mass of humanity and holding his breath against the 
odor of garlic and sour wine. Outside, a huge crowd gathered about 
four men dancing a cancan and cheered as the dancers kicked their 
dusty boots toward the hot sky. These terpsichorean artists were clad 
in the stolen garments of the Duchesse d'Angouleme and the Duchesse 
de Berry and Dumas watched woefully as a thousand-franc cashmere 
shawl was torn to tatters. 

In the street both acquaintances and strangers were willing and 
eager to inform Dumas how the Tuileries had fallen. The four attacks 
were described to him. There had been one by the Palais-Royal, 
another by the rue des Poulies, a third by the Pont des Arts (which 
Dumas knew very well), and a fourth by the Pont Royal. It had 
been the second attack, led by Godefroy Cavaignac, Joubert and 
Bastide, that had captured the ancient building. Owing to a misin- 
terpreted order on the part of the Royalists a regiment had been 
withdrawn from the defense before a second had come up to replace 
it and Cavaignac's insurgents observing the slackening fire had rushed 
through all the wicket gates and gratings and driven the Swiss Guards 
before them. In vain had the Due de Raguse striven to rally the 
Royalist troops. The Swiss Guards still remembered the tenth of 
August, and, flinging their arms away, fled across the Place du Car- 
rousel like rabbits. The Due de Raguse, weeping with vexation, with- 
drew among the last of the defenders just as Joubert was planting 
the tricolor on the gate de THorloge. Well, it was oven The Revolu- 
tion was accomplished. The fifteen years* comedy had ended with a 
bloody climax. While the ostensible leaders of Liberalism, Casimir 
Perier, Laffitte, Benjamin Constant, S&astiani (he of the four gold 
snuff-boxes), Guizot and Odilon Barrot had hidden in the wings the 
Three Days Drama had been played by Cavaignac, Baude, Charras, 
fitienne Arago, Gauja, Bastide, Joubert, and those blood-stained men 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 207 

of the people who knew little about arbitration but a deal about 
frontal attacks with muskets. It was the children of the proletariat 
who won the Revolution of 1830 only to have the victory slip through 
their fingers into the ambitious hands of Monseigneur le Due 
d'Orleans. The Three Days, then, were no more than a pathetic 
parody of 1789, for all it accomplished was the removal of the crown 
from a scrupulous but stupid old man and its transference to a more 
clever but less honest nobleman. After the bloodshed and the gallant 
deaths upon the barricades the rest was farcical. There was the meet- 
ing of the Liberal deputies at Laffitte's house, the appointment of the 
Marquis de la Fayette to the command of Paris, the last minute 
attempt of Charles X to forestall Destiny by revoking the ordinances 
and appointing the Mortemart-Gerard ministry, the; negotiations with 
the canny Due d'Orleans who still hid in Neuilly negotiations which 
ended with Laffitte's impatient note bidding him to choose between 
a crown and a passport, and the establishment of the July Monarchy, 
that weak compromise engineered by Beranger and Laffitte. Beranger, 
the poet, had likened the Due d'Orleans to a plank flung across a 
torrent; eighteen years later another poet, Lamartine, was to remove 
that plank. 

The day following the capture of the Tuileries, Dumas, loitering 
about the Hotel de Ville and listening to the conversation of La Fayette 
and his lieutenants, heard the old Marquis remark that Paris was 
suffering from a shortage of gunpowder and that if Charles X and 
his Royalist troops proposed to march on the city the situation would 
be precarious for the new government. Dumas instantly ceased to be 
the observing playwright and transformed himself into a hot-headed 
d'Artagnan. With that impulsiveness that was always a part of 
his nature he strode up to La Fayette and demanded leave to go to 
Soissons, capture the powder-magazine there, and bring back the 
ammunition. "You are crazy!" snorted the Hero of Two Worlds. 
He barely restrained a smile as he observed the tall young man in 
the vermilion gilet and pointed shoes. Dumas did not resent being 
called crazy by La Fayette. He continued to argue in a most per- 
suasive manner, and, to get rid of him, the commander of the National 
Guard and military governor of Paris wrote out a request: 



208 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

M. Alexandre Dumas access |o General Gerard." There was nothing 
like turning crazy young men over to the General who would treat 
them with proper military despatch. Dumas took the request, left 
the Hotel de Ville, and, as soon as he was outside, forged above the 
Marquis's signature: "To whom we recommend the proposition he 
has just communicated to us." Then he proceeded blithely on his 
way to the office of General Gerard. The General heard Dumas's 
scheme for seizing the powder, started to shake his head smilingly, 
and then read La Fayette's note. The handwriting was only too 
familiar but the sense of it suggested that the old Marquis was going 
slightly mad. The idea of entrusting this young dandy with a com- 
mission in which he would probably get his crinkly head shot off! 
But there it was in plain writing. "To whom we recommend the 
proposition . . " Well, if Dumas desired to die, die he should. 
General Gerard picked up his pen and signed the note Dumas had 
already written out for him: "The military authorities of the town 
of Soissons are ordered to deliver immediately to M. Alexandre Dumas 
all the powder that can be found either in the powder magazine or 
in the town." 

"That is the last of that young man," he thought to himself as 
Dumas dashed out the door. In the street young d'Artagnan con- 
tinued his forgeries, this time inserting above General Gerard's signa- 
ture: "Minister for War." Then he returned to La Fayette. This 
time La Fayette thought General Gerard had gone mad. He chuckled 
a bit at the "Minister for War" and then wrote out a proclamation 
to the citizens of the town of Soissons requesting them to aid and abet 
M. Alexandre Dumas in his patriotic designs. Again Dumas hurriedly 
left the H6tel de Ville. It was three o'clock in the afternoon and the 
fortified town of Soissons locked its gates at eleven o'clock. There 
were eight hours, then, in which to travel twenty-four leagues. 

Loitering in the square before the Hotel de Ville was a young 
painter named Bard, a friend to Dumas and a confirmed Republican. 
This youth for he was only eighteen years old was leaning against 
a wall and observing the world go by. Young d' Artagnan-Dumas ran 
up to him. "Come with me," he cried. "Where?" asked Bard, the 
specter of a fine meal at Vefour's floating before him. 'To get your- 
self shotP* Bard immediately turned into Athos. "Hurrah!" he 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 209 

shouted. "Vwc la Rcpublique!" Th<^e was a moment's stuttering 
conversation and Bard dashed off to Dumas's house to secure pistols 
and a horse. They were to meet at Le Bourget. Dumas scampered 
down the rue Saint-Martin, his cloak floating behind him. He trav- 
eled on foot to La Villette and there engaged a cabriolet to carry him 
to Le Bourget. There was no sign of Bard, so Dumas, to pass the 
time in an agreeably patriotic manner, rigged up a tricolor flag out 
of several yards of merino and a broom-stick. Hardly was this Repub- 
lican gesture accomplished than Bard appeared riding furiously down 
the dusty road. The flag was nailed to the cabriolet and off for Les 
Mesnil the two heroes started, thrusting their heads out at opposite 
sides of the carriage and shouting, "Vive la Rtpubliquel" to the aston- 
ished country-folk. The first ten miles were covered in exactly an 
hour and the next two stations went practically as fast. The spectacle 
of this swaying and jouncing cabriolet carrying a tricolor flag on a 
broom-stick and with two tousled heads projecting on either side 
and bellowing "Vive la Rtpubliquel" was as comic as it was theatrical. 
Dispiritingly enough, it quite failed to rouse the slumbering patriotism 
of the plodding farmers who cared less about who was shooting who 
in the streets of Paris than whether or not it was going to rain the 
next day. At Nanteuil d'Artagnan-Dumas and Athos-Bard met with 
a decided set-back. A surly old postboy, who had been assigned them 
by a phlegmatic providence, doggedly refused to drive his bony horses 
faster than the regulation pace. He observed the tricolor with a sneer. 
He intimated that the two young men had escaped from some lunatic 
asylum. It was difficult to be a patriotic hero when the populace 
refused to recognize the dramatic gesture. Dumas, however, could 
rise to the occasion all by himself. First, he secured a switch and 
started to belabor the lean flanks of the horses unmercifully while the 
old postboy roared his disapproval and strove to hold back the far 
from snorting steeds. The switch broke and Dumas, disarmed for 
the moment, turned to Bard and shouted for his pistols. The old 
postboy grinned to himself and continued to rein in the horses. Bard, 
a trile pale at the command, passed the pistols to Dumas and the 
postboy, deciding that the pke had gone far enough, halted the 
carriage, sullenly dismounted and began to unharness the horses. 
Dumas* flourishing Ms pistols, warned him to desist. The postboy 



5io THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

rontinucd to unbuckle the leather straps. Then Dumas fired one of 
Jic pistols it had a blank load in it directly at the postboy's face 
md the victim struck in the cheek by the wad fell to the ground 
ivith a roar of anguish and surprise. He was convinced that he had 
^cen killed. Dumas hauled on the postboy's huge boots, leaped 
astride the saddle-horse, and the carriage started off at a great rate 
:>f speed. 

Levignan was reached by half-past eight which left two and a half 
hours to cover the remaining nine leagues to Soissons. At Villers- 
Cotterets an ovation awaited the two travel-stained heroes. Old 1 
friends clustered about the carriage and hailed Dumas, among them 
Hutin, a boyhood acquaintance, who explained that he knew the 
gate-keeper at Soissons and could, therefore, enter the town at any 
time during the night. This was welcome news for Dumas and Bard, 
who, exhausted with their long ride from Paris, were only too willing 
to linger among the honey-pots of Villers-Cotterets adulation. The 
rue de Lormet and the rue de Soissons were the same. Nothing was 
changed except the dark young man who had gone away from this 
quiet backwater of Time seven years before. Dumas sat down to a 
steaming supper with a score of his youthful comrades, among them 
that Paillet who had ventured to Paris with him on the eventful first 
trip. It was charming to sit among the young men who had played 
prisoner's base with him in bygone times and listen to the gossip 
about familiar names. So many of the girls had married and so many 
of the youths had developed in unexpected ways. The same bright 
moon shone down on the meadows and the forest and in the park 
of Francois Premier the night-breeze rustled through the ancient 
beech trees. 

Shortly after midnight Dumas, Bard and Hutin were before the 
walls of Soissons. Over the city floated the white banner of the Bour- 
bons and from time to time the sound of a sentinel's steps could be 
heard crunching the gravelled walks. Soissons was royalist; its regi- 
ment had not mutinied; M. le Vicomtc de Linicrs, the military gov- 
ernor, had remained a faithful subject to Charles X. The fury of the 
Three Days had not reached the city. How three headstrong youths 
were to rapture this stronghold was a problem to which not one of 
them had given any particular thought. Dumas's principle, as always, 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 211 

was: act first and think afterwards. But they were there before the 
frowning bastions, d'Artagnan-Dumas, Athos-Bard, and Aramis- 
Hutin. There was no Porthos. Hutin's friendly relations with the 
gate-keeper secured the trio an ingress to the city and the remainder 
of the night was passed in the house of Hutin's mother where the 
three young men manufactured a large tricolor flag from the red 
curtains of the dining-room, the blue curtains of the drawing-room 
and a sheet from the linen-press. It was proposed to raise this revolu- 
tionary symbol over the Cathedral in place of the white Bourbon 
standard and Bard and Hutin were deputed to this task. If the 
sacristan interfered, Dumas announced ferociously, he was to be flung 
from the top of the belfry* Bard looked at Hutin and Hutin looked 
at Bard but they made no remonstrance. After all, war was war. 

Shortly after three o'clock in the morning Bard and Hutin departed 
with the huge flag for the Cathedral praying in their souls that the 
sacristan be either amenable or sound asleep. Dumas set off toward 
the fortified powder-magazine, lurked about until he saw the tricolor 
triumphantly flying from the belfry of the Cathedral, leaped the 
high wall, and found himself face to face with a captain and a sergeant 
who were lounging in the garden. He immediately cocked both 
triggers of his gun and stalked toward them with as ferocious a 
Republican scowl as he could summon up. He tried to look like a 
composite picture of Robespierre, Danton, and Marat. There was 
some parley and Dumas exhibited his letters from General Gerard 
and La Fayette. The soldiers, now joined by a perplexed colonel who 
had come out to sec what the commotion was about, agreed to a 
benevolent neutrality they were Republicans at heart anyway and 
only waited the opportunity to give signal proof of it and Dumas, 
accompanied by several Soissons patriots who had appeared due to 
the industrious proselytizing of Hutin, marched off to the house of 
M. le Vicomte de Liniers. 

The military governor, an obnoxiously aristocratic individual, lifted 
his eyebrows at the appearance of the travel-stained young man whose 
cravat was in ribbons, whose coat was black with travel and bereft 
of half its buttons, and whose trousers had been ripped by the rough 
wall he had scaled. He restrained a smile and in a voice of polite 
irony asked him what he wanted. Dumas presented his letters which 



212 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

by this time had become somewhat soiled and rumpled. M. le Vicomte 
de Liniers snorted at the signature of General Gerard, explained that 
it carried no legal significance for him, that he did not recognize the 
sovereignty of the Provisional Government, and that there was no 
powder in the magazine, anyway. Rebuffed at this first interview 
Dumas hurried out to the magazine, discovered that there were two 
hundred pounds of powder in it, learned to his relief that the garrison 
was preponderantly Republican in opinion and, therefore, not to be 
feared, and then returned to the military governor's house. There he 
found M. le Marquis de Lenferna, Lieutenant of Police, and M. Bon- 
villiers, Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers, in consultation with M. le 
Vicomte de Liniers. Dumas presented his crumpled authorizations 
again; the remarks of the military governor grew more jeering; and, 
at last, his temper at a ragged edge, the young man snatched his 
pistols from his belt, cocked them, aimed them at the laughing officers 
who suddenly ceased to laugh, and, in a gutteral roaring voice, 
announced that if an order for the release of the powder were not 
signed in five seconds he would blow out their brains beginning with 
M. le Vicomte de Liniers. A side door opened and a dishevelled 
woman burst into the room crying, "My love! Yield! Yield! It is 
a second revolt of the negroes!" Dumas listened paralysed. The 
hysterical woman continued, *Tield, I implore you! Remember that 
my father and mother were both massacred in Santo Domingo!" 
Dumas understood, then, that his fuzzy hair, his burnt complexion, 
and the hoarseness of his voice had driven this woman the wife of 
the military governor into hysterics. M. le Vicomte de Liniers, after 
some formal objections, yielded and wrote out the order for the 
removal of the powder. D'Artagnan-Dumas put his pistols away with 
a sigh of relief, disregarded the delays of the Mayor of Soissons and 
had the doors of the magazine battered open, saw the barrels of 
powder loaded upon carts and driven out through the city gates 
followed by a cheering crowd, and prepared for his own departure. 
Forty-four hours after he had left the city with Bard he found himself 
again in the turmoil of Paris. 

Monscigncur le Due d'Orl&ins, now Lieutcnant-General of the 
Kingdom and in a few days to be Louis-Philippe, King of France, 



THE GUNS OF REVOLUTION 213 

welcomed the dark young man who appeared before him, extending 
his pale royal hand and murmuring, "Well done. Monsieur Dumas* 
You have executed your best drama." He did not explain that the 
barrels of gunpowder were quite unnecessary. Dumas blushed, bowed, 
and departed from the royal presence with a swelling chest. Mon- 
seigneur le Due d'Orleans smiled dryly to himself and muttered: 
"What a play-boy!" 



PART TWO 
MONTE CRISTO 



CHAPTER ONE 

THE TKIUMPH OF ANTONY 
I 

*\ 

THE ardor of Dumas still responded to the martial music of revolu-f 
tion. He had conversed too familiarly with the leaders, with La Fay- 
ette, Godefroy Cavaignac, fitienne Arago, Charras, to return, at leas: 
for the moment, to his sedentary occupation of playright. The rest- 
lessness that was an integral part of his nature, that was to carry hirr 
over France and Switzerland and Italy, North Africa and Russia ( 
aroused him to further militant endeavors. France was his stage and& 
the young quadroon desired to tread it as prominently as possible. 
Literature was of secondary importance. The pitched battle of 
romanticism was to him three-quarters of the charm of being a 
romanticist. It gave him an opportunity to rise up in the orchestra 
and shout anathemas at turgid dramas, to applaud noisily those luxu- 
riant plays that deliberately demolished the classical pedantries* He 
delighted in reading the grave rebukes administered to him by the 
journals whenever he had been particularly obnoxious in the theatre. 
An inborn spirit of exhibitionism animated his existence. The Revo- 
lution had given him ample scope for extravagant attitudes. Tlie 
Three Days, the whirlwind expedition to Soissoas, La Fayette's arms 
about him in the Hotel de Villc, the Due d'Qrl&tns* ironical compli- 
ment on his best drama, all these unexpected gestures of a kugjhing 
Time Spirit urged him toward further fire-works. Gun in harid hcj 
joined the motley crowd of soldiers, revolutionists and curiosity4 
seekers who filled the roads to Rambouillet on August yd, an undis- 
ciplined, rag-tag-and-bobtail division pushed forward by canny poli- 
ticians who hoped that this overt demonstration of offense would 
hasten the abdication aad banishment of Charles X* The did monarch, 

217 



2i8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

entrenched behind his troops at Rambouillet, heard the shouting of 
the mob, believed the false statement of Mar&rhal Maison that sixty 
thousand infuriated patriots were investing Rambouillet, and retreated. 
There was a dignity to Charles X that neither Louis XVIII, who 
preceded him, nor Louis-Philippe, who succeeded him, possessed. 
He was the last royal knight in France who perished because he was 
scrupulous in his tyranny. Dumas, camped before Rambouillet, felt 
like a hero of 1789. 

Paris seemed dull after this last musical comedy scene. The waves 
of excitement that alternately rose and fell ceased to carry him on 
their crests. He regretted this, for he desired to play some part in 
the reconstruction of the government. Vague delusions of political 
grandeur blinded him to his incapacities and he conveniently forgot 
that his bravery led him only so far as the last protecting bronze lion. 
At Soissons, it was true, he had gone farther, but Soissons had been 
a set-piece, his blaze of glory, his best drama. He could be spectacular 
in bravery for a day, but for no longer. The temptation to loll in some 
Capua over a bowl of chocolate was too great. How then, could he 
manage the extended difficulties of a diplomat during a long period 
of stress? This was something he did not consider, and the possibili- 
ties of an ambassador's post, of a ministry, of a special commissioner's 
function spun through his unreflecting mind. He sought for some 
excuse to approach La Fayette with a proposal. Harel begged him 
to forget these designs and to settle down to work on a drama about 
Napoleon Bonaparte. Dumas scorned the suggestion. There was 
Spain. He might ask for a post in Spain. He had never seen the 
dark-skinned mountaineers riding on donkeys through mountain 
passes. How beautiful the feet of the Andalusian dancing girls must 
be! There was Austria. He could wear silk breeches at the court of 
Vienna and ride in a cabriolet to the battlefield of Wagram. There 
was Russia. He had heard all about the huge bears that ate men in 
the icy gloom of the Ukrainian forests and the howling wolves that 
pursued sleighs along the snow-covered steppes. A modicum of com- 
mon sense, however, restrained him from putting forward these pro- 
posals to^the old Marquis de la Fayette, and when he did accost him 
at the H&el de Ville on August fifth it was not to request an ambas- 
sadorship (La Fayette thought he had come to beg a prefecture!) 



-.-# 

Bi,W/;C. *~1^ 




&#" 

.">" *;< 

r^'*^"* J L y ***n ( . , , >.. 

^^>'" .^^ 



DUMAS IN 1832 
#z<?f <??? /^^ bright crest of the 
wave of romanticism 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 219 

but to urge that he be appointed special commissioner to travel 
through La Vendee and discover the possibilities of organizing a 
National Guard in that admittedly Royalist territory. La Fayettc 
was curious to know how Dumas would go about any such task. 
"Have you thought about it?" he inquired. Dumas replied: **As 
much as I am capable of reflecting on any subject. I am a man of 
impulses and not given to reflection." La Fayette subdued a smile 
and told him to go ahead. At least, the young man could do no harm 
and La Fayette was relieved that he had not asked for the Ambassa- 
dor's post at Vienna. After receiving the letter authorizing him to 
travel as Special Commissioner through the departments of La Vendee, 
the Loire-Inf erieure, Morbihan and Mainc-et-Loirc, Dumas paused at 
the door. 

"General," he said. 

La Fayette turned. 

"Do you authorize me to wear some sort of uniform?** 

La Fayette stifled a snort of laughter and nodded. 

"Have something made resembling an aide-de-camp's uniform,*' he 
replied. 

The young man did not have to go far before he found his uniform. 
While crossing the Place du Carrousel he met a friend named Lon 
Fillet. Fillet was clad in a shako with flowing tricolorcd plumes, 
silver epaulettes, a silver belt, and a royal blue coat with trousers to 
match. Down the trousers ran beautiful glistening silver stripes. 
Dumas stopped with his mouth open and drank in this astonishing 
picture of flamboyant glory. It made the bird-of-paradise look like 
a crow. 

Dumas set out for La Vendee on the tenth of August dad in aa 
exact duplicate of L&m Fillet's uniform. On the same 
neur le Due d'Orleans ascended the throne of France as 



La Vendee was the disputed land. In its dark forest ferocious bat- 
tles had taken place between Royalists and Revolutionists during the 
great upheaval of 1789. One has but to read Vktor Hugo's Quatrc- 
Vingt-Treizc to understand what happened in that terrain of sullen 
peasants who lurked in chasms and forests and caves and tore to bits 
the troops of the Directory. It was the last stronghold of roya&u* m 



220 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

France, the desperate remnant of an uncompromising feudalism. 
Dumas, setting forth with the sublime confidence that was a part of 
his strength, had not the slightest notion as to the proper method of 
approaching these people, nor did he know what to do about the 
formation of a National Guard. Clad in his glittering uniform he 
passed through Blois, Tours and Angers. At the last named wile the 
Assizes were in session and Dumas paused long enough to attend 
them. A Vendeen peasant, under arrest for passing counterfeit coin, 
enlisted his sympathy and he despatched a letter to M. Oudard beg- 
ging clemency for the criminal. Receiving a favorable reply he pro- 
ceeded to Meurs, Beaulieu, Baumont and Chemille. Already he 
noticed the increasing antagonism aroused by his uniform. Near 
Paris it had been all right but the farther he travelled from Paris the 
less did this uniform seem to appeal to the populace. Comprehending 
that discretion was the greater part of valor and that it is as fatal to 
wave a Republican uniform before a Royalist as it is to wave a red 
rag before a bull he reluctantly divested himself of his stripes and 
epaulets and donned less noticeable garments. Accompanied by the 
grateful counterfeiter he proceeded on his way, picking up a deal of 
information about La Vendee but doing nothing at all about his 
mission. He stopped at La Jarrie long enough to see Melanie Waldor, 
and after six weeks of desultory journeying, returned to Paris with 
the bright news that new roads should be opened up through 
Le Bocage. 

Paris had not adjusted itself to the new King and Dumas was 
intensely disgusted to observe Louis-Philippe shaking hands right and 
left to ingratiate himself with the populace. It did not seem kingly 
to the young man who could breathe fiery Republican sentiments one 
minute and sigh for the vanished glories of imperialism the next. 
He waited impatiently for his summons to an audience and when it 
did come he approached Louis-Philippe in such an arrogant manner 
that the new ruler was both amused and vexed. He was still further 
vexed when Dumas, assuming a political sagacity that was ridiculous, 
ventured to advise the future foreign policy of France, Louis-Philippe 
nearly choked. "Politics, M. Dumas," he spluttered, "you had better 
leave to Kings and Ministers. You are a poet; stick to your poetry." 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 221 

Dumas made a deep bow and remarked: "Sire, the ancients called 
the poet a prophet." Louis-Philippe impatiently signified that the 
audience was over and an injured and humiliated young man left 
the chamber. In an outer office he murmured to M. Oudard that his 
rupture with the King was now complete. M* Oudard hid a smile 
and said nothing. The truth was that Dumas had lost his head. 
Because of the commission to La Vendee he now regarded himself 
as a political expert, a rank which he was far from deserving. He was 
too emotional for politics. As he had admitted to La Fayette, he was 
a man of instinct and not of reflection. He proved it by rushing home 
and writing out a resignation of his post at the Palais-Royal, He 
washed his hands of Louis-Philippe. 

On the evening after his interview with the King, Dumas attended 
the premiere of La Mhc ct la Fittc and then went to supper at Harel's 
house. The food was excellent and the wine was rare. Dumas 
expanded and told and retold the incident of his brush with Louis- 
Philippe, embroidering it, one may be sure. "That rascal Harel" 
nodded and smiled, and winked at Mademoiselle Georges. When 
the guests had departed Harel stayed Dumas, who was reaching for 
his cloak, and said: "Wait. I want to show you something." He led 
the unsuspecting playwright to a charming bed-sitting room with an 
adjoining dressing room. "Very nice," murmured Dumas, thinking 
of his own bed in the rue de f Universit and of M61anie S*, "a delight- 
ful place to work in. n "I'm glad you think so," replied Hard, "for 
here you stay until you finish that play on Napoleon.** Dumas looked 
amazed, enraged and then amused. **No foolish tricks now!" he 
exclaimed. Harel shrugged his shoulders. Dumas looked about the 
charming room. "I haven't the faintest plan for your ^Napoleon*,** 
he complained. Harel waved a hand toward a row o books* 
"Bourrienne, Norvins, Victoircs ct Conqugtcs, Memorial dc Sainte- 
HtUme . . ." "But my mistress," expostulated the playwright At 
that moment Mademoiselle Georges entered the chamber. "I have 
sent her a bracelet," murmured the canny HarcL Dumas continued 
to observe the queenly form of Georges and sighed. <c Vcry well," 
he said. "Tomorrow I will set to work and you shall have your play 
in a week." *' 



222 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

"You arc in a great hurry to leave us," remarked Mademoiselle 
Georges. 

"It is Harel who is in a hurry * * . not L" 

Georges smiled. "Harel will wait," she said. 

Mademoiselle Georges was installed in the room next to that occu- 
pied by Dumas and it was only through her chamber that he could 
leave the house. He manifested no desire to escape. In nine days 
Dumas had written a play in twenty-four scenes and nine thousand 
lines which carried Napoleon from his first victory at Toulon to the 
melancholy Island of St. Helena. At the end of his gentle incarcera- 
tion Dumas learned that his Antony had been released by the Censor 
for production at the Thatre-Franais. If the political scene was not 
opening propitiously before him, at least he could not complain about 
the dramatic one. 

His fury with Louis-Philippe had not subsided, and no sooner was 
he freed from the labor of Napoleon than he joined an artillery regi- 
ment of the National Guard which was being formed by his Repub- 
lican friends. He discovered, to his joy, that the uniform he had worn 
through a part of La Vendee would, with minor changes, serve as 
an artilleryman's uniform. Before 1830 came to its momentous end 
he had been promoted to a Captaincy in the Fourth Battery called 
La Meurtriere, not because of its bloodthirsty proclivities but because 
it contained a large number of doctors. He strutted about with 
infinite satisfaction. And then the Demon of Comedy dealt him 
another blow. He attended the New Year's reception of the King 
in the Palais-Royal in full uniform. He was a little surprised to dis- 
cover no men in artillery facings present and still further amazed to 
observe the astonished looks upon the faces of his friends. When he 
reached the King, Louis-Philippe looked him over and chuckled. 
"Bon jour, Dumas," he said, "je vous reconnect bicn Ib." Everybody 
burst into laughter. Dumas, possessing not the slightest notion of 
what they were laughing at, proceeded to smile haughtily and strutted 
into the next room. There a willing colleague explained to him that 
the artillery regiment of the National Guard had been disbanded the 
day before by Royal decree. The notice had appeared in the Monitcur 
and Dumas had failed to see it. An indignant and flushed young man 
hastily left the Palais-Roval and fled to the rue de PUniversit& 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 223 

Napoteon was produced at the Odcon theater on January 10, 1831, 
and obtained a fair amount of success. But it was a bad play and 
Dumas knew it, a long picaresque exhibition which depended purely 
upon the unrest of the time and the political significance of the prin- 
cipal character. Frederic Lemaltre as the Emperor was admirable, 
and Dumas admitted that it was the actor who made the drama. 
Setting no store by his handiwork, the playwright's sensitive nature 
was not unduly lacerated by the pointed criticisms of some of his 
friends. It was an episode, a nine days' labor, a friendly gesture for 
Harel, and already Dumas was meditating other and more important 
things. 

II 

The rehearsals of Antony at the Theatre-Fran^ais proceeded in the 
most disappointing manner and Dumas began to realize that the 
national home of drama was to him at least one of those lower circles 
of Hell that Dante had omitted from his Divina Commedia. Some- 
where in the depths of Hades existed a place where unfortunate play- 
wrights were eternally tortured by arrogant actors at endless rehearsals. 
It was based directly on the Theatre-Franfais. The imagination of 
Satan could never have envisaged it. Faced as he was by a group of 
spoiled players who overrode the dramatist and drove directors to the 
verge of insanity, Dumas found the situation more than he could 
dominate. The trouble lay with the principals, with Mademoiselle 
Mars and Firmin. Mars, particularly, was a maddening irritation to 
him. She was an idol of the public and she made the most of her 
exalted rank, haughtily preempting to herself tl]ie r61es of principal 
player, director and playwright. There were moments when Dumas 
was uncertain whether he or she had written Antony. Mars, however, 
was sure that she had not written it. She despised Antony. She was 
quite incapable of understanding the entirely modern character of 
Adelc. Though she possessed wit, intelligence, coquetry and elocu- 
tionary ability, she lacked the naturalism, the tamcness that was 
necessary to render the character of Adelc plausible. She had been 
bred in a different school of drama. Firmin, for his part, was unable 
to grasp the tone of Antony. It was impossible for this semi-classical 
player whose leg ached for the solemn buskin to reproduce the bitter 



224 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

irony and fiery passion of the Byronic lover. The rehearsals, then, 
proceeded to constant complaints and interruptions from these privi- 
leged players. Dumas, hurrying from the satisfactory rehearsals of 
Napotton where everybody was pleased with his or her part, found 
himself in a maelstrom of dissatisfaction. Mars was ripping to pieces 
the part of Adelc. Firmin plucked all the color from the role of 
Antony. By the end of a month the drama was but the pale shadow 
of itself, and the distracted author, whose very life was imbedded in 
this play, realized that his work had been ruined completely. He 
could endure the situation no longer. 

Victor Hugo, who had completed arrangements for the production 
of his Marion Dclormc at the Porte-Saint-Martin theater, came to 
Dumas, shook his head lugubriously and admitted that there was no 
hope in the Theatre-Fran^ais. No matter what they did the Romantic 
pkywrights would be regarded as usurpers in the chilly auditorium 
of Racine and Corneille. The flame of Hernani had not ignited the 
sombre walls of the national theater. Dumas, in despair over his 
rehearsals, agreed with him. "Come over to the Porte-Saint-Martin," 
suggested Hugo, "I have already negotiated for you with the man- 
ager, Crosnier, and he is quite willing." Dumas shook his head. 
"I have but two plays," he answered, "and both of them are in 
rehearsal, one at the Odeon and the other what is left of it at the 
Theatre-Francis." Nevertheless the prospect of joining Hugo at the 
Porte-Saint-Martin appealed to him, and he reserved the suggestion 
for further thought. 

The premiere of Antony drew near and Dumas listened ruefully 
to the remnant of his play. It might as well have been a one-act 
curtain-raiser as this pale imitation of a Gymnase drama. On the 
Wednesday prior to the first night it was arranged for Saturday 
Firmin beckoned Dumas aside. The playwright followed him. What 
now? Was it proposed to cut out the second and third acts? Firmin 
said, "My dear friend," and smiled. Dumas did not smile. Firmin 
proceeded: "I do not want to refuse to act the part of Antony for 
you, first, because I will play all the parts you assign me; secondly, 
because having given me the role of Saint-Megrin, which is a good 
one, you acquired the right to give me a bad one after it. . . ." He 
stopped in confusion. Dumas waited. If the fellow would only leave 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 225 

off his damnable faces and begin I A series of questions brought out 
Firmin's conviction that Antony would be a dismal failure unless his 
suggestion were followed* "Well?** inquired Dumas. Firmin hesi- 
tated and stuttered. "If I were in your place," he said at last, "I would 
take it to Scribe.'* Scribe! A red aura seemed to surround Dumas 
for a moment. Scribe of the popular vaudevilles! He walked ovei 
to the prompter and said: "Gamier, please give me my manuscript/' 
The much-pencilled script was handed to him and Dumas walked 
toward the door. Mademoiselle Mars, who had been hovering in th< 
wings stopped him. "I do not intend to act my part in your play or 
Saturday,** she announced. Dumas lifted his eyebrows. "I have speni 
fifteen hundred francs on my dresses and wish them to be seen," sh< 
continued. Dumas almost smiled. "But why can they not be seer 
on Saturday as well as on any other day," he inquired politely 
"Because,** said Mars, "we have been promised a new chandelier fo 
Saturday and now the man has put us off for another three months 
When there is another chandelier I will play in your . . . piece/ 
"No, you won*t," answered Dumas. "In three months my ... piec 
will have been acted at the Porte-Saint-Martin. Adieu, madamc 
Au rcvoir, Firmin." He walked solemnly out of the Th&tre-Fran^aii 
Well, it was done. He had ascended from Malebolge and the ai 
was pleasant in the rue de Richelieu* For an instant he paused in th 
street gazing at the bullet marks on the stone facades of the house 
Then he turned and walked hurriedly toward the Boulevard Saini 
Martin where Madame Dorval lived. He had not seen the littl 
Dorval since Alfred de Vigny. * . . Dorval was the dcus ex machin 
at the Porte Saint-Martin theater. She welcomed Dumas soinewhs 
nervously, explaining that she was renewing her virginity. "Impoi 
sible!" roared Dumas. "It is true,** she insisted, "I am becomln 
respectable." "Who the devil caused this to come about?** asked tB 
playwright. "Alfred do Vigny," expkined Dorval. "I am mad aboi 
him. And I have married Merle in order to keep him away froi 
me.** Dumas explained that he had come on business. That nigt 
he read Antony to her, took over the complacent Merle's room for 
study and restored his last act to its original form. The next da 
he read the drama to Crosnier who fell asleep during die reading 
thereby proving himself die perfect producer. Antony was acceptc 



226 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

by the Porte-Saint-Martin at once, although its premiere was deferred 
until May. The die was cast. Dumas's break with the Theatre- 
Franjais was so complete that he imagined he would never go back 
there. Dorval was delightful Bocage suggested the part of Antony 
to perfection. Alfred de Vigny, perhaps because of the little Dorval, 
was eager to offer advice and actual assistance in the revision of the 
script. Dumas resumed his jaunty airs and the cafes resounded to 
his uproarious laughter, his unceasing fund of anecdotes, his declama- 
tions, and his boastfulness. 

Outside the theater the world of Paris reacted on Dumas in diverse 
ways. He had relinquished his hope of immediate political preferment 
but the flamboyant gestures of the opposition still drew him as a 
bright flame draws a fascinated moth, and his Republican sentiments 
continued to plunge him into precarious situations. He scorned Louis- 
Philippe. The king had humiliated him. He had expected much and 
received nothing. He was uneasily aware that Louis-Philippe laughed 
at him, regarding him as a sentimental and dramatically minded 
buffoon. For his own part, Dumas was very sure that the new ruler 
was a Janus-faced opportunist, who extended the hypocritical hand 
of friendship in public but conceived sly, tyrannical measures behind 
the safe walls of the Tuileries. Dumas could not forget the spectacle 
of the perspiring would-be monarch shaking hands with the grimy 
populace in the courts of the Palais-Royal during the days of uncer- 
tainty. Then, too, the memory of his faux pas at the New Year's 
reception still rankled in Dumas's mind. Therefore, the opposition 
disturbances that aroused the streets and cafes of Paris to turbulent 
activities appealed to him and he frequented those gatherings where 
the young Republicans, furious at the tame finale of the Revolution 
and the "Democratic** King who had been foisted on them, planned 
drastic measures to advance the cause of liberty. Nevertheless Dumas 
still played safe. At one banquet where the toasts steadily grew more 
revolutionary and where one young hothead flourishing a knife 
shouted "To Louis-Philippe F* the startled playwright leaped out a 
window and ran for home at full speed. When Louis-Philippe, 
bowing pusillanimously to the Republican opinion of Paris, ordered 
the ficurs dc lys obliterated from the Royal carriages, Dumas, emo- 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 227 

tionally reversing his dogmatic Republicanism, gave vent to a scorn 
that knew no bounds. To his imaginative soul the fleurs dc lys were 
the symbols of the past glories of France, of the splendors of Valois 
conquest and the regalities of Bourbon majesty. He forgot how a 
mist had swirled before his eyes at the first glimpse of the tricolor 
flying from the towers of Notre-Dame during the Three Days, or, 
if he did remember that moment, he managed to merge the two 
sentiments by some method of logic peculiar to himself. Louis- 
Philippe was a knave. He feared to be a ruler and he was incapable 
of comprehending a disinterested democracy. Dumas, in his rage at 
the King's cowardice, sent in a second resignation, this time announc- 
ing in a longer and wordier message that the man of letters was but 
a prelude to the politician and that by the time he was thirty he was 
confident of being nominated a deputy. He was twenty-eight when 
he made this unfortunate prophecy. The Palais-Royal Accepted his 
resignation calmly. This added to Dumas's fury. He continued to * 
estrange himself from the government whose front and head had 
made life possible for him during his first year in Paris. When the 
trouble arose over the July Crosses (decorations awarded to those 
citizens who had taken a militant part in the Three Days insurrec- 
tion and which Louis-Philippe desired to have inscribed as "given 
by the King of the French") Dumas accepted an appointment to the 
Committee of Fourteen elected from the various arrondissements to 
repudiate this inscription. Was not Louis-Philippe hiding in Neuilly 
when the Tuileries was taken by Cavaignac, Bastide and Joubert? 
Was not the cross a gift from the nation, from the grateful French 
people, and not an award from the King? The joy of Dumas was 
excessive when the Government acceded to a modification of the 
inscription. The Laffitte ministry fell, Casimir Perier's cabinet was 
created, and still Dumas fulminated against the government The 
Palais-Royal, if it noticed him at all, viewed him with a half smile. 
He was to them an amusing quadroon, a thankless fellow with some 
talent, and an irritating individual. 

Aside from politics and the dramatic opportunities they offered 
and the satisfactory progress of the rehearsals of Antony at the Porte- 
Saint-Martin theater, Dumas had Melanie S. to comfort him* He 
had been revelling in her charms for some time, to the entire neglect 



228 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

of that other Melanie who was comforting herself as best she could 
by writing poetry and achieving the position of a blue-stocking in 
the Parisian salons to which she had returned from La Jarrie. On 
March 7, 1831, two days before the ghost-like Paganini gave his open- 
ing concert in Paris, Melanie S. gave birth to a child, a daughter who 
was named Marie-AIexandre. Dumas, as usual, was delighted. The 
illegitimacy of his offspring and Marie-AIexandre was not to be 
the last aroused no moralistic qualms. He was as devoid of such 
compunctions as a rabbit. He bellowed with joy over his children, 
despatched a thousand kisses to the mothers, and turned back to his 
Gargantuan labors in letters. 

May 3, 1831. Theophile Gautier has described the agitation, the 
tumult, the effervescence about the Porte-Saint-Martin theater on the 
opening night of Antony. It was a second Hernani, another battle 
against classical influences and, this time, a sudden blow in defence 
of modernity in the theater. A multitude of carriages slewed to the 
curb and from them descended an extraordinary melange of human 
beings. There were strange and barbarous faces, great curling 
mustaches and pointed beards (the romanticists entertained a weak- 
ness for hirsute adornment upon the head, upper-lip and chin), long 
hair worn in the Merovingian style or cut like a square brush, extrava- 
gant doublets, cloaks with huge velvet lapels and hats of every style 
except the usual style of the day. The women stepped from their 
carriages apparelled in the mode of the hour, their hair arranged 
a la girafe, tall tortoise-shell combs thrusting upward like cocks' 
combs. Their mutton-leg sleeves brushed against the tittering by- 
standers and their short skirts, gathered up by gloved hands, revealed 
their high buskins. Time after time the gaping onlookers parted to 
permit the passage of some young master already celebrated, a poet, 
novelist or painter who threaded the mob waving his hand to his 
friends and flinging his huge cloak about him in true Hernani fashion 
as he swept through the portico. Inside the auditorium Dumas 
scurried about in a long green redingote buttoned from top to bottom. 
He understood that he must recover a standing established by Henri 
111 ct sa Cour, weakened by the semi-success of Christine, and almost 
' destroyed by die mediocre Napolton. Antony v then, was his desperate 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 229 

bid for the adulation that had ceased and upon which he thrived. He 
had deliberately flung away his connection with the Palais-Royal in 
a moment of pique. There were two children for whom he must 
provide and several women, including his feeble mother. He was 
sybaritic in his tastes and demanded all the luxuries of life. Antony 
was an ultimate gamble by which he hoped to secure his crumbling 
fortunes. But would it ? He glanced about the stage. There was not 
a single new carpet or decoration, not even a renovated salon. Crosnier 
had provided nothing but the actors. Dumas remembered the elabo- 
rate mise~en-scne of Henri HI et sa Cour and sighed. It all depended 
on the play itself and two actors, the little Dorval and the romantic 
Bocage. The playwright returned to the auditorium and sank into 
a chain He saw Melanie Waldorf dark face turned toward him from 
a distant box. 

The curtain rose. 

During the opening scenes DorvaPs harsh voice, sloping shoulders 
and peculiar gestures alienated a portion of the audience; they could 
see no more in her than a vulgar little actress who might well be 
playing on the outer boulevards. There was no passion, no fire and 
the spectators did not suspect what was in store for them. Bocage, 
as the fainting Antony injured by a carriage, was carried in. As he 
fainted a second time murmuring, "And now I shall remain, shall 
I not?" the audience began to realize the theme and its possibilities. 
Adele was married. Antony loved her. He would pursue her to 
the end. The curtain fell to moderate applause and Dumas hurried 
behind the scenes to hasten the change of act. Within five minutes* 
before the scattering applause had ceased, the curtain rose again, J 
act belonged to Bocage. He was a figure of bitter misanthropy 
amorous threats, a man who knew neither his father nor his 
but realized all too well that he loved and that his love was married 
to another. Another! "Maltdictionl" roared Antony to the pale and 
trembling Adle, "OhI si vous savicz combicn le mdheur rend 
michantl combien dc fois, en pensant & cct homme, jc me suis 
cndormi la mean sur mon poignardl . . . et fai r$v6 dc Grtve et 
d'tchafattdl" Melanie Waldor leaned back in her box, her heart 
beating violently. Dumas had once hissed such words into her willing 
ear. But now another M$anie, Bell Krebsamer, still pale from her 



23 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

confinement, sat proudly in the author's box. The second act ended 
to a roar of applause from the audience. They had recognized them- 
selves at last in these emotional puppets dressed in the fashion of 
1831. The melodramatic excesses of Antony, the over-ranting role 
of Bocage and the febrile helplessnes of Adele as Madame Dorval 
created her could not dam the rising enthusiasm of the spectators. 
The curtain lifted on the third act while the auditorium still mani- 
fested its approval. 

This act, the crucial one, was brutal action from beginning to end. 
Dumas himself compared it to the third act of Henri 111 et sa Cour 
where the Due de Guise crushes his wife's arm in his iron gauntlet. 
The scene was an inn and to it comes Antony in pursuit of Adele. 
He seizes all the post-horses in order to force Adele to stop there, 
engages one of the two rooms, withdraws to it and waits for the 
arrival of the woman he loves. Adele, who is fleeing to her husband 
from the influence of Antony, arrives and disappears into her bed- 
room. A pane of glass falls with a crash from the balcony door, a 
hand appears through the opening and unlatches that door. It opens 
and as Adele, hearing the noise, reappears upon the stage, Antony, 
pale and determined, stands before her. To the audience of 1831 the 
ensuing scene was terrific realism. Adele screams; Antony forces a 
handkerchief over her mouth and drags her toward the bedroom; the 
curtain falls. There was a moment of shocked and breathless silence 
after this climax and then an indescribable fury of applause burst 
from the audience. They clapped and screamed for five minutes. 
Dumas raced behind the scenes and congratulated his two players. 
Then he hurried out to the corridor and meeting Alexandre Bixio 
there seized him by the arm and dragged him to the street. The two 
men walked toward the Place de la Bastille chattering and laughing, 
Dumas, full of his success, acting like "a great lunatic." The cool air 
of Paris restored his sanity and he returned to the theater in time for 
the better part of the fourth act. 

In this act a defence of the modern style of drama had been inserted 
(Madame Dorval humorously referred to it as "le feuillcton") and 
die long speech was warmly received by the romanticists, their Mero- 
vingian coiffures waving approbation. Adele is insulted by a jealous 
woman; she is discovered in Antony's arms by the Vicomtesse de 




BOCAGE 

in the role oj Antony 




MADAME DORVAL 

She entered the life of Dumas by may of a cab 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 231 

Lacy; she disappears filled with anguish; Antony's servant enters 
with the disturbing news that Adle's husband has returned, and 
Antony dashes from the stage, crying, "Wretch! Will I arrive in 
time!" Dumas, acute psychologist of audiences as he was, raced 
behind the scenes, and cried to the scene shifters: "A hundred francs 
if the curtain be raised again before the applause subsides!" In two 
minutes the curtain rose on the last act This scene is built entirely 
for one last line, a line that became a part of the popular language 
of Paris for twenty years. The two lovers are caught in the room; 
the husband is beating at the door; Adele prefers death to dishonor; 
Antony stabs her to the heart, and flinging the poignard at the feet 
of the outraged husband who has broken his way in, exclaims: "JLtte 
me rtsistait; jc I'm assassine!" It is impossible to describe the state 
of the audience at this unexpected termination. Cries of dismay, loud 
laments and shouts mingled with the roar of applauding hands. 
Dumas, caught in one of the passages, had the skirts of his long green 
redingote torn to shreds by a crowd of young men. Behind the scenes 
the players were stupefied by the success. Crosnier was hidden, 
Dorval was mad with joy. Bocage was walking in circles. Melanie 
Waldor, the tears streaming from her eyes, left the theater alone. The 
gasping figure of Alfred de Musset staggered along the hall. 

Dumas had recovered everything he had lost. The play ran one 
hundred and thirty nights, an inconceivable success in the eighteen 
thirties. 

There were good reasons for this astonishing triumph. Antony wa* 
the first romantic drama in modern dress. It was the first modern 
drama, the first play "of the times/* the first complete cleavage with 
past traditions. There had been many ancient adulteries on the 
Parisian stages but never a modern one in which the sinners mig!il 
be recognized as people who lived around the corner. The effect upon 
the young romanticists of the day was tremendous. It became die 
fashion for young bloods to walk about Paris with an Antony dagger 
in their belts, upon it the device: "Adesso e &mpre? The famous 
Abb de Lamennais invited Dumas to call on him in the rue Jacob; 
Antony spread through the provinces and was played as far south 
as Marseilles. Hie culminating speech of the drama was upon every- 
one's lips. Dumas accepted the new honor? tkat were showered upon 



232 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

him with his usual disarming vanity. Paris lay at his feet. Once more 
the thousand franc notes rolled in. Again there were elaborate dinners 
and loud waistcoats and beautiful women. Dumas began to fill out. 
The lean d'Artagnan had ceased to exist and the first suggestion of 
Monte Cristo appeared in that hero's place. 

Ill 

A May of adulation melted into a June of triumph, and Dumas, 
bitten again by that unceasing desire to write poetical dramas as fine 
as those of Hugo, remembered that he had promised Harel a play 
for the Odeon. It was to be about Charles VIL He could not write 
in the whirl and heat of Paris, but before he removed himself_to 
some quiet spot, there were several adjustments to make. He removed 
to a new house in the Square d'Orleans where he occupied a comfort- 
able third floor and had as neighbor fitienne Arago. He traveled to 
Passy and visited Marie-Catherine and Alexandre fils and acknowl- 
edged his seven-year-old son whom he placed in the Ecole Vauthier 
in the rue dc la Montagne-Sainte-Genevive. He saw Melanie Waldor 
several times and discovered that she held no grievance against him 
but still loved him and wrote poetry about him. A cool friendship 
established itself upon the still smoking ruins of the old love affair. 
He acknowledged his daughter, Marie-Alexandre. He purchased new 
gilets of remarkable hues, elaborate walking sticks, pointed boots 
and flowing capes. He continued to revel in the plump beauty of 
Melanie S. 

On the sixth of July, accompanied by her, he traveled by diligence 
to Rouen where he remained twenty-four hours exploring the ancient 
town in which Jeanne d'Arc had perished in the flames. From there 
he went by boat to Le Havre, renewing again his delight in the sea 
which had so enchanted him while he was revising Christine. But 
Le Havre, with its busy population, was not a place where he could 
settle down with any comfort for a period of six weeks' labor and 
he looked about for a quiet town in the vicinity. He finally discov- 
ered Trouville, then a small fishing village containing a solitary inn. 
A day or two later he was settled there in Madame Oseraie's hostelry 
in a pleasant chamber that opened on the Valise de la Touque in 
one direction and on the sea in the other. The days passed quietly. 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 233 

Dumas and Melanie S.> much like a young couple on honeymoon, 
strolled on the white sand of the beach, bathed in the clear blue- 
green water, angled from small boats, and conversed with the brown- 
skinned fishermen. The air was clear and salty. Dumas, his mind 
at peace, began to write his fourth full length play. He sat in his 
chamber and calmly appropriated what he desired from the many 
dramatists he had studied. The result was an astounding pastiche. 
It is easy to perceive what the playwright wanted to accomplish. He 
desired to write a major poetical play, but he was unequal to the 
task. When he cut himself away from swiftly moving melodrama 
or colloquial comedy and strove for the grand manner he was lost. 
He did not possess the exalted imagination, the intellectual power 
or the literary finesse. All he could do was to fall back on models. 
Because of this creative weakness Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux 
became no more than a ponderous rag carpet of borrowed beauties. 
Even the central idea of the drama, a contrast between nomadic Islam 
and feudal Christianity, was suggested by Gerard de NervaFs unpub- 
lished La Dame de Carouge, which Dumas had read some time 
before. In effect Dumas was rearing an imposing and hollow struc- 
ture with stones deliberately taken from the edifices of better men. 

One day a young banker named Beudin called on Dumas and 
introduced himself as one of the authors of the boulevard success, 
Trente ans, ou la vie d'un jouer. Together with the schoolmaster 
Prosper-Parf ait Goubaux, Beudin formed that half of the collaboration 
called Dinaux, the other half being Victor Ducange alone. Dumas 
had not talked long with the young man before he discovered that 
Beudin had an idea for a play and wanted assistance. The idea, whicH 
formed no more than a prologue to an uncreated plot, had been found 
by Beudin in Sir Walter Scott's Chronicles of the Canongate, and 
Dumas, listening to the young man's enthusiastic description, saw 
possibilities in the theme. He agreed to collaborate with Beudin and 
Goubaux on this drama, to be allied Richard Darlington, as soon as 
he had finished with Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux. The agree- 
ment was made by Dumas on his twenty-ninth birthday, July 24, 
1831, and on the tenth of August he wrote the final speech of Charles 
VIII chez ses grands trassaux. There was nothing to keep him in Trou* 
vilk now and, packing his effects, he proceeded back to Paris, to 



234 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

which city Beudin, eager to break the good news to Goubaux, had 
preceded him. Dumas arrived in the capital too late for the premiere 
of Victor Hugo's Marion Delorme, which had taken place on August 
eleventh, but he went to a representation on the evening of his return 
and there Antoine Fontaney, the poet and lover of Madame Dorval's 
niece, saw him, "le grand Dumas, toujours fou, toujours excellent, 
parlant, criant & toute la sdle! 9 

Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux was presented for the first time 
at the Odeon on the evening of October 20, 1831. Melanie Waldor, 
clad in a bright red robe, sat in a box and watched her lost lover's 
drama go down to a complete defeat under the boohs of the audience. 

Dumas himself had suspected the debacle. Before the production 
he had displayed uncertainty about his verse and almost decided to 
rewrite the play in prose. The resounding lines of Victor Hugo's 
Marion Delorme had made him uneasy and had awakened a con- 
sciousness of his own feebleness in this metier. He had also returned 
Harel's thousand franc premium after he had read the drama before 
a group of friends who received it coldly. But the official reading 
before the Odeon players went well and Dumas's vanity recovered 
from the chilly winds of criticism. Mademoiselle Georges was as- 
signed the part of Berengere and the roles of Savoisy, Yaquob, 
Charles VII and Agnes Sorel were distributed respectively to Ligier, 
Lockroy, Delafosse and Mademoiselle Noblet. Rehearsals proceeded 
and Dumas, hearing his verses rolled forth by experienced mimes, 
built up in his own mind a defence of his poetry. To the last he 
possessed no self-criticism. 

Two incidents marked the opening night of Charles VII chez ses 
grands vassaux. 

The armor worn by Delafosse who played the r61e of Charles VII 
had been borrowed from a museum and its springs were extremely 
rusty. During one of his long speeches the visor fell on the helmet 
and Charles VII was promptly extinguished, nothing but an indis- 
tinct mumbling issuing from the invisible head. The audience began 
to titter. Charles VIFs esquire, being something of a mechanician, 
rushed forward and pried the visor up with his poignard, revealing 
countenance gf JDcMoss? a? y | a$ a peony and furioijs jritfi 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 235 

miliation. Dumas remarked later in recalling this incident, **With 

r isor like that, Henri II would not have died at the hand of Mont- 

mery. Observe on what the fate of empires may hang. Henri II 

is killed because his visor went up; Charles VII came near to being 

led because his visor fell!" Visor or no visor, however, Charles 

I chez ses grands vassaux was as good as dead. 

Dumas, leading Alexandre fih by the hand, departed from the 

icon theater where the five acts of his drama had been played to 

tilent audience. Father and son walked along slowly without speak- 

g, and the small boy sensed the sadness of the man beside him. 

imething had happened. Something that stilled the irrepressible 

iety of his father. They passed by the old blank wall of the rue 

: Seine, near the Institute, and Dumas continued to maintain a 

ofound silence. The little boy was forced into a trot to keep up 

ith the long strides of the dejected playwright. The bright moon- 

jht flung their shadows before them, flickering black skeletons, one 

them long and grotesque and the other short and fantastic. Around 

em breathed the vast sprawling city, its bright eyes winked out as 

,e lamps were extinguished. Dumas turned in at his door in the 

pare d'Orleans and climbed slowly to his chamber of the third 

x>r. The glory of Antony had departed and in its place was the 

itness of Charles VII. Years later, in the preface to his play Le Fils 

^aturel, Alexandre Dumas fils f remembering the sad journey home- 

r ard from the Odeon, wrote: "I have never returned from one of 

ly most applauded and clamorous first nights without recalling that 

irge cold theater and that silent walk through the deserted streets; 

nd, when my friends were felicitating me, I have thought to myself : 

: is possible, but I would rather have written Charles VII whkh did 

ot succeed." There was more loving loyalty than reason in this 

ssertion. 

The ebullience of Dumas could not be stifled by failure and already, 
:ven before the debacle of his attempt at tragic verse, he was at work 
ft Richard Darlington with Beudin and Goubaux. like Antaeus 
te fell to earth only to rise the stronger. Failure might crush htm 
or a moment, an evening perhaps, but new vistas and fresh oppor- 



236 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

tunities constantly opened before him. He strode toward them with 
renewed roars of laughter. 

In Richard Darlington he possessed a theme that fitted his peculiarly 
forceful ingenuity. Within three weeks of the premiere of Charles 
VII chcz ses grands vassaux he, with the collaboration of Beudin and 
Goubaux, had finished the play, turned it over to Harel, who had 
deserted the management of the Odeon theater for that of the Porte- 
Saint-Martin, and was watching the first rehearsals. Antony had been 
a tragedy, a melodrama rather, of extreme egoism in love; Richard 
Darlington was an exposition of egoism in ambition. Richard, a 
foundling sheltered and educated by the good Doctor Grey and his 
wife, marries Jenny, the Doctor's daughter, in order to gain influence 
in the town of Darlington. He is elected Member of Parliament. 
Reaching London his ambition pushes him into a skyrocket career 
and he achieves a Minister's portfolio. He finds it necessary to rid 
himself of his wife in order to make a more aristocratic connection 
and the murder of Jenny occasions Richard's downfall and the climax 
of the play. Richard is a scoundrel, a monstrosity with a perverted 
brain* Surrounding him is his evil genius, the intriguer called Thomp- 
son, and the mysterious Mawbray who pops out from behind curtains 
and doors at psychological moments, and who of course turns out to 
be Richard's actual father . . * and the hangman as well. Dumas 
always possessed a softness for le bourreau as readers of Les Trois 
Mousquetaires know. Richard Darlington, then, is a brutal play, as 
brutal as Antony and as swift and unified in its remorseless action. 
It was calculated to stun an audience with a rising series of melo- 
dramatic horrors, and as usual in Dumas's plays, there was introduced 
a culminating bit of stage management that was certain to arouse 
the gasping terror of the spectators. In Henri 111 et sa Cour it had 
been the business of the iron gauntlet and the bruised arm of the 
Duchesse de Guise. In Christine it had been the death of Monaldeschi. 
In Antony it had been the unexpected last line. In Richard Darling- 
ton it was die death of Jenny. 

This climax, a problem at first with the collaborators, had been 
solved by a flash of theatrical genius on Dumas's part. The idea had 
been to have Richard fling Jenny from a window. Dumas knew that 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 237 

the audience would not stand the sight of a woman struggling for 
her life and being dragged toward a window. He also knew that in 
flinging Jenny over the balcony Richard would undoubtedly expose 
his wife's legs which would arouse the audience, always on the look- 
out for these contretemps, to ribald laughter. After a fortnight's 
cogitation Dumas solved the problem. Richard double-locked the 
door of the room wherein he and Jenny were. Jenny ran to the bal- 
cony crying for help. Richard followed her and as he heard foot- 
steps outside, closed the shutters of the balcony on his victim and 
himself, thus hiding the scene from the audience. A cry resounded 
from behind these closed shutters. They opened with a blow from 
Richard^s fist and there he was, pale and trembling, alone on the 
balcony. It was trickery but it was new to the audiences of the 1830*5. 
This was Dumas's m&ier, swift melodrama with unexpected climaxes 
and an instinctive comprehension of theatrical values. If he could not 
write impressive poetical drama he could at least write "good theater." 
He was a superb technician of thrillers. 

Richard Darlington was produced at the Porte-Saint-Martin theater 
on December 10, 1831, just sixty-one days after the premiere of 
Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux. Frederic Lemaitre played the 
title part with a force and fury that swept the drama to a complete 
triumph. Dumas, meeting Alfred de Musset in the corridor, asked 
the poet what was the matter with him. The pale and sensitive 
author of Contes d'Espagne et d'ltdie replied: "J'ttouficF For some 
reason Dumas refused to share the author's call and Beudin and 
Goubaux appeared alone on the stage to acknowledge the applause 
of the spectators. Yet Dumas had done by far the greater amount of 
work on Richard Darlington. The prologue had been brought to 
him but he had conceived the theme. The climaxes had been his and 
he had rewritten the entire draft of the play before it was turned over 
to Harel. Perhaps the new sensation of working with collaborators 
was displeasing to him. Except for his first two vaudevilles all of his 
work had been done alone although it is true that he sometimes 
leaned on already published and produced work for some of his effects. 
Richard Darlington was the beginning of a new method of composi- 
tion for Dumas, that of working with collaborators. 



238 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Anicet Bourgeois had met Dumas through the actor, Bocage, durino- 
the rehearsals of Richard Darlington. Bourgeois had a play in his 
coat pocket. He produced it. At least, he produced a plan of a play. 
Bocage who had made such a success with the role of Antony now 
desired to play an old man, for what reason neither Dumas nor any 
one else could understand. But Bocage who had been so material a 
factor in the success of Antony would have to be humored, Dumas 
humored him by concocting Teresa from Bourgeois's plan, a worth- 
less drama in which the role of Baron Delaunay was fitted to Bocage's 
requirements. Dumas was three weeks writing this piece, part of the 
time being passed among the Christmas fetes of Villers-Cotterets. 
Bocage had discovered "a talented young girl who is at the Mont- 
parnassc," whose name was Ida. She was just beginning her career; 
she would be excellent for the part of Amelie Delaunay (this name 
was taken from Madame Dorval who was born Marie-Thomase- 
Amelie Delaunay), and Dumas, peregrinating to the Montparnasse 
to view this unknown phoenix, went away whistling softly. As a 
matter of fact Melanie S., like that Melanie who had preceded her, 
had begun to pall. 

Terfra, produced at the Theatre de TOpera-Comique (Salle Venta- 
dour) on February 6, 1832, made a fair impression. The "talented 
young girl" from the Montparnasse, Ida Ferrier, was recalled before 
the curtain to receive the plaudits of the audience, and returning 
from her first triumph, she met Dumas in the wings. Immediately 
she flung herself into his arms, exclaiming: "Ah, you have rendered 
me a great service. You have made my reputation. I owe you my 
future . . . and I do not know how to thank you." Dumas gazed 
down at the fair-haired, short, rather plump young actress and ex- 
plained that she could thank him by going to a late supper with him. 
The couple vanished and with their gay exit deux vanished the 
dominance of Melanie S. Mademoiselle Ferrier (born Marguerite- 
Josephine Ferrant) had been born in 1811. She was twenty-two years 
old, a most enticing age to Dumas. 

Carnival time approached and Dumas, who had heard all about 
the great bd costumf which had taken place at the Tuileries a 
splendid function where the historical costumes had been designed 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 239 

>y Duponchel and the entire corps Icgislatif had appeared was in 
L willing mood to listen to Bocage's suggestion that the playwright 
wrganize such a ball for the writers and artists of Paris who, of course, 
lad failed to receive invitations from Louis-Philippe. Dumas loved 
he flamboyancies of costumes. Antoine Fontaney had encountered 
iim in the boulevards one day shortly before the premiere of Charles 
711 chcz ses grands vassaux strolling toward Louis Boulanger's studio 
vith an amaranthine Arab mantle over his arm. He was going to 
xse in it as Yaqoub, the Moslem of his poetical drama. The idea, 
herefore, of strutting about his own rooms in gorgeous vestments 
>efore the eyes of artistic Paris was too much to resist. Preparations 
Krere immediately instituted to make the bal costumt one that would 
)e talked about for years. 

Dumas had but four rooms in the Square d'Orleans. They would 
lot hold three or four hundred people. So he engaged an empty 
mite of four more rooms on the same floor and his friends among 
lie artists came with their pigments and brushes to decorate them. 
Ciceri designed the ceilings. Delacroix painted King Rodrigo after 
lie defeat of the Guadalete; Louis Boulanger did a scene from Hugo's 
Lucrtce Borgia; Clement Boulanger, one from La Tour dc Neslc; 
Tony Johannot, a scene from the Sire dc Giac; his brother, Alfred, 
>ne from Cinq Mars; and Grandville, a huge panel reproducing all 
the artistic professions. Barye moulded lions and tigers for the sup- 
ports of the window-frames and Celestin Nanteuil originated the 
ornamentation for the panels of the doors. Dumas, naturally im- 
mersed in plans for the repast, organized a hunting party and the 
group journeyed to Villers-Cotterets, where, spreading through Ac 
adjacent woodlands, they secured nine plump bucks. Two of these 
bucks were roasted whole for the bal. Three were exchanged with 
Chevet, the butcher, for a fifty-pound sturgeon. Another went for 
a colossal galantine. With decorations completed and steaming 
platters of food prepared Dumas was ready tor his epochal evening. 
By seven o'clock he had three hundred bottles of Bordeaux put down 
to warm, three hundred bottles of Burgundy in die coolers, and five 
hundred bottles of champagne on ice. Monte Cristo was in his 
clement. 

Dumas received his guests in a sea-green jerkin braided with gold, 



240 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

breeches of parti-colored red and white silk, and black velvet slippers 
embroidered in gold. Melanie S., recalled from the gallery* of memory 
to act as hostess, stood beside him clad as Helena Formann, Rubens' 
wife. Two orchestras, one stationed in each suite, synchronized 
galops. By midnight the eight rooms were a whirl of color, move- 
ment, laughter, dancing and music. All of literary and artistic Paris 
was there. The staid Doctor Veron, not yet dreaming of his legal 
battles with Dumas, was muffled up in rose color; Buloz, as melan- 
choly as ever, stalked about in sky blue; Odilon Barrot wore a black 
domino; and the old Marquis de la Fayette appeared in a Venetian 
costume. Beauchene wore a Vendeen costume and the old Marquis, 
knowing that Beauchene passed for a Royalist, called to him: "In 
virtue of what privilege are you the only person here who is not 
wearing a disguise?'* Mademoiselle Mars, Joanny, Menjaud, Firmin 
and Mademoiselle Leverd appeared in the costumes of Henri III et 
sa Cour. Mademoiselle Georges was disguised as a Nettuno peasant 
girl and Madame Paradol staggered under the heavy splendor of 
Anne of Austria. Dejazet, of the beautiful legs, was Madame du 
Barry. Rossini entered the room as Figaro. Barye was dressed as 
a Bengal tiger; Alphonse Royer, as a Turk; Alfred de Musset, as 
a weather-cock; Francisque Michel, as a vagabond; Nestor Roque- 
plan, as a Mexican officer; Delacroix, as Dante; and Frederic Lemaitre, 
as Robert Macaire covered with spangles. Eugene Sue appeared in 
a pistachio domino and Paul Lacroix wandered about in the mantle 
of an astrologer. Petrus Borel represented Jeune-France. The list is 
endless. Rose Dupuis, Mademoiselle Noblet, Leontine Fay, Bocage, 
Moyne, Adam, Zimmennaim, Pichot, Bard, Paul Fouche, Eugene 
Duverger, Ladvocat, the Johannots, Auguste de Chatillon, Robert 
Fleury; still they poured through the doors in startling and original 
costumes, as dolls, toreadors, Turkish slave girls, magicians, the dead 
kings of France, Highlanders, Chinamen and pilgrims. Tissot, of 
the Academy, who had made up as an invalid, was followed about 
solemnly by Jadin, the flower-painter, dressed as an undertaker's man. 
Jadin would murmur lugubriously: "I am waiting!" Tissot went 
tome in a rage. At one time more than seven hundred people 
crowded into the eight rooms. Supper was served at three in the 
morning and at nine o'clock, when all good people had gone to their 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 241 

daily labor, the bed ended to a final galop danced in the rue des 
Trois-Freres, the head of the procession reaching to the boulevard 
while its tail was still cavorting in the courtyard of the Square 
d'Orleans. 

IV 

The idea of prose narrative continued to bite at Dumas's unceasingly 
active mind. Dramatic successes, bds, love affairs and florid Repub- 
lican gestures could not stifle it. Though his days were a hurry of 
rehearsals, assignations, cafe meetings, dinners and public manifesta- 
tionsit was part of his policy and inner requirements to exhibit 
himself in the streets and public places as often as possible he yet 
found time to seat himself at the richly ornamented table in his 
apartment in the Square d'Orleans and write with that fury of which 
he alone seemed capable. While he had been concocting Teresa with 
Anicet Bourgeois he had written another play as well, Horace Vernet 
had sent a huge canvas from Rome depicting Edith aux longs cheveux 
cherchant le corps d f Harold sur le champ de battaille d 'Hastings, and 
Dumas, gazing at this painting when it was exhibited, conceived the 
desire to write a play with the title Edith aux longs cheveux. To 
desire, with him, was to do. All that he knew about the battle of 
Hastings, however, was what he had read in Sir Walter Scott's 
Ivanhoe. That was of small use to him. He determined, therefore, 
not to write a historical play but a drama after the style of Shake- 
speare's Cymbeline. A romance by Auguste Lafontaine, a prolific 
German writer of the time, gave him his central idea: the .heroine 
takes a narcotic which puts her to sleep so that she may pass for dead, 
and thanks to this supposed death which releases her from the tram- 
mels of the earth, she can marry her lover. Dumas wrote his drama 
with customary speed, forgot his hatred of the Theatre-Francis long 
enough to read it there, and it was summarily refused. Hard also 
refused it, whereupon Dumas ordered it torn up or burnt or flung 
in the sewer. From this unproduced and destroyed Edith aux longs 
cheveux sprang Catherine Howard two years later. 

At the same time the romances of Sir Walter Scott led Dumas into 



242 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

the Histoire des dues de Bourgogne by Barante, and a new world, a 
world opened up years before by Lassagne, began to unfold before 
the young experimenter. Dumas began to dissect and put together 
dialogues from Barante's opus. He called them scenes historiques. 
Though at first his discovery of the vivid picturesqueness of history 
was tentative, he had actually discovered his metier. He saw historical 
personages as living creatures. Out of Barante's work rose the dis- 
hevelled figure of the mad King, Charles VI, the poetic image of 
Odette, the imperious and licentious Isabel of Bavaria, the careless 
gallantry of Louis d'Orleans, the terrible character of John of Bur- 
gundy, the pale and romantic Charles VII, File-Adam and his huge 
sword, Tanneguy-Duchatel and his axe, the Sire de Giac and his 
horse, the Chevalier de Bois-Bourdon and his doublet of gold, and 
Perinet-Leclerc and his keys. Buloz of the Revue des Deux Monies 
welcomed the sketches as they came from Dumas's hand and printed 
them in his magazine. The fire had been kindled and during the 
first six months of 1832 Dumas applied himself with increasing ardor 
to French history. 

Scott's novels had influenced the French intellectuals and though 
Dumas had used them heretofore for dramatic reasons he saw that 
they suggested an example to prose writers. The forgotten advice 
of Lassagne came back to him. He remembered Alfred de Vigny's 
Cinq-Mars which had appeared in 1826 and Prosper Merimee's 
Chronique du Regne de Charles IX, issued in 1829. The little known 
Stendhal, of whom the proud young Merimee was an admirer, was 
dealing with history. A youthful historian named Michelet was 
recreating history in terms of flesh and blood. Vitet was already 
known. Augustine Thierry's Histoire de la Conquete de I' Angle- 
terre par Ics Normands had appeared in 1825. Hugo had just wit- 
nessed the triumph of Notre Dame de Paris. Balzac's Les Chouans 
had been offered to the public in 1829. The time was ripe and Dumas, 
quick to sense the impulses in the literary air about him, began to 
read French history. He was like a naive and ignorant gosse at first, 
and Delanoue, coming into his apartment one afternoon, found him 
immersed in a curious little book. Looking over Dumas's shoulder 
the visitor discovered the volume to be the Abbe Gauthier's Histoire 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 243 

de France, a rhymed recital composed for schoolboys. Delanoue burst 
out laughing. He began to recite: 

Neuf cent quatre-sept voit Capet sur le tr6ne. 
Ses fils out huit cents ans comer vi la couronnef 

Dumas attempted to hide the book. Delanoue dragged it from him 
and continued: 

Henri-Trois, de Bologne, en "France est ramcnt, 
Redoute les ligueurs, et tneurt assassinel 

Dumas blushed violently. Delanoue inquired: "Did you get the details 
for Henri III et sa Cour from this?" With dignity Dumas explained 
that he dredged the details for his play from L'Estoille, Brantome, 
d'Aubigny and Sancy. Delanoue began to advise the would-be writer 
of historical romances. He told him to buy Thierry and Chateau- 
briand and Sidoine Appollinaire and Tallemant des R6aux, to go 
back to the chroniclers; in other words, he repeated the advice of 
Lassagne, renaming the old authors and pointing out the new ones* 
particularly Thierry, who had emerged upon the scene since 1824. 
Within a day or two Dumas was reading Thierry and enjoying the 
exhilarating experience of witnessing in his mind's eye an entire 
living world of people of twelve centuries before. He was spellbound, 
enchanted. In after years, Dumas, writing of this period, remarked: 
"I perceived that, during the nine years which had rolled by, I had 
learnt nothing or next to nothing; I remembered my conversation 
with Lassagne; I understood that there was more to see in the past 
than in the future; I was ashamed of my ignorance, aad I pressed 
my head convulsively between my hands." The future author o 
Les Trois Mousquetaires and La Dame de Monsoreau was thirty 
years old when he made this discovery. There remained twelve long 
years in which to prepare himself for the lean Gascon of the long 
sword. With that prodigious concentration and recklessness of time 
and strength which were portions of his fulminating nature he 
plunged into a course of wide reading, carrying it on with all his 
other activities. 



244 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

A sapphire blue sky in which a powerful sun emanated warm rays 
hung like a canopy over Paris. On the early green of the Tuileries 
gardens, women, in their light spring garments, walked about laugh- 
ing and chatting. The revolutionary cabals, invigorated by the 
delightful weather, postponed their conspiracies and went into the 
suburbs of Paris to pluck flowers. The city had not experienced such 
peace for many years and Dumas, leaning from his window in the 
Square d'Orleans, the open volume of history lying on the table behind 
him, breathed in the warm air. Spring in Paris was perfect. The 
chestnut buds were out. The year 1832 seemed auspicious for charm- 
ing triumphs. But from India and by way of Russia and England a 
black demon was circling down on the metropolis. Suddenly 
through the mellifluous weather came a murmur that increased to a 
terrified shout. "A man has just died in the rue Cauchat. The cholera 
is in Paris !" Instantly a black pall seemed to draw itself across the 
blue sky. Men and women rushed from their homes crying, "The 
cholera! The cholera!" just as seventeen years before they had stum- 
bled out shouting, "The Cossacks! The Cossacks!" The days that 
followed were days of terror and dismay. Through the poorer quar- 
ters the cholera sped leaving a swath of black-faced corpses behind it 
The hospitals filled. Men ran through the boulevards with stretchers 
on which writhed plague victims who often died before the pest- 
houses were reached. Pedestrians walking in the streets would sud- 
denly fall to the ground, twist like an epileptic, turn blue and expire. 
The doctors and Sisters of Charity fought desperately against the 
scourge but they were outnumbered and unequal to the task. As the 
deaths increased wild rumors permeated the city. It was said that the 
Government, to get rid of the surplus population, was flinging poison 
into the public fountains and the casks of the wine merchants. Gis- 
quet, the Prefet de Police, made the abominable mistake of hurling 
these charges back against the Republicans. Placards were put up and 
torn down and in this city where multitudes were dying on the 
eighteenth of April alone the number of mortalities reached a thou- 
sandunfortunate wretches, accused as poisoners without cause, were 
knocked down with clubs, assassinated with knives and torn to pieces 
by dogs ancl the talons of ferocious women. Hie implacable blue sky 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 245 

rith its mocking sun glowed above a city that had become both 
barnel-house and slaughter-house. 

From his window in the Square d'Orleans Dumas saw the unending 
*ries of funeral corteges on their way to the Montmartre cemetery, 
'ifty or sixty would pass in a day, the black plumes waving above the 
Leads of the skinny horses. Already the supply of coffins had given 
ait and corpses were wrapped in tapestries, tipped from these ironi- 
ally-colored hangings into graves and covered with a shroud of lime* 
Vhat did Dumas do during this terrible season? First of all, with 
he assistance of Anicet Bourgeois and Eugene Delrieu, he composed 
t one-act comedy, Le Man de la Veuve, which was produced during 
he epidemic at the Theatre-Frangais as a benefit for Mademoiselle 
Dupont. A few spectators, daring the streets where the drums beat 
ncessantly and the stretchers passed by, attended the premiere. Then 
Dumas continued his historical researches for a book he had conceived, 
o be called Gaule et France. He shut himself away from the plague 
is Stephen Bloundel, the grocer of Wood Street, did in London in 
[665. Friends came to see him during the evenings. Ida was there to 
shower affection on him. Liszt, the composer, came and pounded 
away at the bad piano and ended by breaking it to pieces. Hugo 
recited his latest poems. Fourcade and Delanoue and Chatillon and 
Boulanger talked of art. Behind the curtains it was warm, the food 
was good, the wine was rare. There was laughter. Outside the bells 
tolled and the black-plumed horses stumbled along the cobbles. That 
rascal, Harel, who had sublimely announced through the press that 
"it has been noticed with surprise that theaters are the only public 
places where, whatever the number of spectators, no case of cholera 
has yet appeared," forced his way in and demanded that Dumas 
rewrite a play called La Tour de Nesle which the manager carried 
under his arm. Dumas waved him away. He did not feel like work- 
ing. It was better to sup and laugh and talk and spout verses and play 
music while the black terror stalked abroad. 

One evening, the fifteenth of April, when Dumas stood at die top 
of the stairs shouting farewell to Liszt and Boulanger, he was seized 
with a slight trembling. He leaned against the bannisters for support 
and his maid, Catherine, exclaimed at his pallid appearance. A shak- 
ing possessed his entire body and this was followed by an extreme 



246 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

chill. "It is queer/' he mumbled. "I feel very cold." "Ah, monsieur,** 
cried the maid, "that is how it begins!" Dumas staggered to his bed 
chattering, "A lump of sugar . . * dipped in ether * . . a doctor." 
Tremblingly he began to disrobe himself. The distracted maid, 
hardly conscious of what she was doing, brought to the shivering 
victim a full wine glass of ether, and he, ignorant of the contents, 
drained it at a draught. At that moment he felt as though he had 
swallowed the sword of the avenging angel. He fell unconscious 
upon his bed. Two hours later when he awakened from his trance 
he was in a vapor bath, and a doctor assisted by a friendly neighbor 
was attending him. He who thought he had swallowed the sword of 
fate now thought that he had waked up in hell. For a week he 
remained in bed, hot and cold, delirious, aching in every limb, and 
every day "that rascal Harel" called with his play tucked beneath his 
arm, sat in the hallway, and waited impatiently for the stricken 
dramatist to recover his senses. 

When Dumas, very feeble as he rose from his bed, hobbled to the 
sunlight of the open window, he saw a bright blue sky, smiling faces, 
and heard the exhilarating hum of fearless and joyous intercourse. 
The bright sun shone down on Paris, and women clad in brightly- 
hued gowns strolled about the fresh greenery of the Tuileries gardens. 
The epidemic had passed. The black demon had vanished as noise- 
lessly as he had appeared. 

Harel, his clever face twisted in a confident smile, sat doggedly in 
his chair and waited. Dumas flung up his arms in helpless surrender 
and said: "Well, what is your play about?" 

Harel explained. A young man from Tonnerre named Frederic 
Gaillardet had written a drama about the orgies of the infamous 
Marguerite de Bourgogne in the Tour de Nesle, that gloomy round 
tower that had once stood close to the Pont Neuf . Master Francois 
Montcorbier dit Villon had mentioned Marguerite in his Ballade des 
Dames du Temps Jadis. 

. . . Ok cst la Royne 

Qui commanda quc Buridan 

Fust jett6 en ung sac en Seine? 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 247 

But Frederic Gaillardet could not write and his play was unactable, 
It needed revision and extensive carpentering. Harel went on to 
explain that Jules Janin had tried to improve it but except for the 
addition of several excellent tirades had added nothing of value. 
Would Dumas improve the script? Harel cocked his head on one 
side and waited. Dumas complained of his weakness. The fever was 
still in his bones, his eyes dazzled, he could hardly lift his head. "I 
will send my secretary Verteuil to take your dictation," suggested 
Harel. "I am dying, idiot !" exclaimed Dumas. Harel whistled softly 
and gazed at the ceiling. "Well," said Dumas, rolling over with his 
face to the wall, "send Verteuil with your damned script tomorrow I" 
As he reached for his hat Harel murmured, "I must have the complete 
play in two weeks." Dumas heard the door close softly behind the 
manager. He will kill me, he thought. Nevertheless, the idea of the 
play pleased him. Margaret of Burgundy. Buridan. The gloomy 
tower. The corpses thrown by night into the Seine. What was the 
fellow's name? . , . Paillard ... no, no ... Gaillard . . . 
Gaillardet. 

Verteuil appeared bright and early and was amazed at the skinny, 
pallid, exhausted shell of a man who lay on the bed. It would never 
do. "Harel will kill you!" he exclaimed. Dumas waved a weak hand. 
M. Gaillardet's play was unrolled and read to Dumas. He raised 
himself weakly on his arm while a faint spark shone in his eye. "No^ 
no ... he has gone wrong after the second scene . . . another 
climax entirely ..." That afternoon he began to dictate his own , 
version of La Tour de Nesle, including but two of Gaillardefs scenes 
and a solitary tirade by Jules Janin. In nine days the script was in the 
hands of Harel and the rehearsals, which had started with the com- 
pletion of the first scene some days before, were well under way. It 
was his play, Dumas felt, for he had recreated it out of a few borrowed 
hints and some scattered speeches, but Gaillardet alone should have 
the credit for it. He wrote the fledgling playwright to tfcis effect, kit 
an indignant young cock immediately made his appearance in Paris 
denouncing the collaboration as a fraud perpetrated upon him and an 
humiliation that he would not accept in silence. Harel sat in his office 
and smiled. A law suit would be excellent publicity. Dumas, still 
weak and light-headed, was troubled. Still . . . it was his play. 



248 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Harel forced the indignant young Gaillardet into a compromise. The 
program should read "By Frederic Gaillardet and * * * ." 

On May 29, 1832, La Tour de Nesle was produced at the Porte 
Saint-Martin theater with a cast which included the trustworthy 
Bocage as Buridan, Lockroy as Gaultier d'Aulnay, Delaf osse (who had 
no visor to trouble him this time) as Philippe d'Aulnay, and Made- 
moiselle Georges as Marguerite de Bourgogne. Dumas, still weak 
from the effects of the cholera, sat in a stage box with Odilon Barrot 
and his wife and saw the drama mount steadily to a dizzy triumph. 
The terrors of Antony and Richard Darlington were lost in the super- 
terror of this moving melodrama which actually rose to tragedy in 
several of its scenes. La Tour de Nesle contained all the elements of 
pure melodrama, historical interest and tragic horror. The two adver- 
saries, Buridan and the licentious Queen, moved steadily through a 
series of imbroglios to that horrible moment when they realized that 
they were contriving the death of their son. And in the prison scene 
where the desperate Buridan, a close-kept prisoner, turned the tables 
on Marguerite who had come to gloat over him and forced her to 
release him from his bonds French drama reached a new apex. The 
play swept Paris. Its premiere marked the first of eight hundred 
performances. It stood for years as a symbol of high perfection in 
French melodrama. Dumas, sitting beside the vivacious Madame 
Barrot, listened calmly as Bocage, dressed in the doublet and boots of 
Buridan, came forward and announced: "The author . . . Monsieur 
Frederic Gaillardet," to the stormy applause of the audience. The 
older dramatist walked feebly down the stairs and passed the young 
man from Tonnerre who stood in the midst of a swirling mass of 
well-wishers. Let M. Frederic have his triumph. Already the rumor 
was spreading through Paris that * * * stood for a well known 
writer, for an experienced dramatist, and the spectators had not failed 
to distinguish a personal touch in La Tour de Nesle that reminded 
them of the work of a tall young man who wore extravagant gilets. 
Dumas did not realize at the time that this collaboration, unsought 
for on the part of the young fire-eater from Tonnerre, was to end in 
that familiar order: pistols for two. 

He began to realize it the next day. Harel slyly changed the billing 
to read: La Tour de Nesle, par * * * ct Frd6ric Gaillardet. Making 




B O C A G E 

As Buridan m La Tour de Nesle 




BOCAGE 

In Teresa 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 249 

the asterisks more important than the name infuriated Gaillardet who 
wrote a letter to the press about it. Dumas watched the developments 
with some unrest. Harel responded in the paper by insisting that 
nineteen-twentieths of the play had been written by the collaborator 
inconnu. Gaillardet riposted by making public Dumas's letter to him, 
the letter in which the elder man had promised the sole glory of La 
Tour de Nesle to the younger man. Dumas then lost his temper and 
wrote to the press a strong letter commenting on Gaillardet's use of a 
personal note and asserting that he had written the play without even 
having seen the younger man's version. It was now open war between 
an angry young man from Tonnerre who saw himself the victim of 
a powerful playwright and a powerful playwright who saw in the 
young man from Tonnerre nothing but a selfish cub* Gaillardet did 
the one thing he could; he went to court and secured a decision 
adjudging La Tour de Ncsle to be his own composition on technical 
grounds. The asterisks were switched back, and for a time the excite- 
ment died down. Damage, however, had been done to Dumas, for 
this affair was the first in which the playwright had been accused of 
purloining another man's work, and his enemies and there was a 
countless number of them in Paris who resented the success of the 
nobody from Villers-Cotterets possessed a new weapon with which 
to attack him. 

On the first day of June, while litigation over the authorship of La 
Tour dc Neslt was beginning to excite literary circles, General La- 
marque, that Lamarque whom Napoleon had created a Marechal de 
France at St Helena, died of the cholera. His death was of inflam- 
mable consequences, for the Republicans were using the name of tiie 
Emperor as a weapon against the Legitimists. It was this Lamarque 
who had exclaimed: "The peace of 1815 is no peace; it is a halt ia tie 
mud!" His memory, therefore, stood for a revolutionary symbol and 
the radical Republicans, among them fitienne Arago> Bastide and 
Godefroy Cavaignac, saw in his obsequies an opportunity to overthrow 
the July monarchy. Martial preparations were made and on June 
fifth, the day of the cortege, all the revolutionary elements followed 
the bjer through the streets of Paris, bearing concealed weapons i>e- 
neath their cloaks and shouting, "Honor to General Lamarque. 5 * 



25 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Dumas who had known tie General slightly was in the midst of 
this din. His republican principles were still burning matters to him. 
Marching beside the artillery with a tri-colored sash about his arm 
and a saber in his hand, he saw the thousands of National Guards- 
men, artillerymen, workmen, students, old soldiers, refugees and 
beggars who filled the Faubourg Saint-Honore. He also observed the 
soldiers of the King, carabiniers, dragoons and light infantry, for 
Louis-Philippe understood only too well that Paris this day was a 
volcano liable to erupt fire and death. Overhead the electricity-charged 
air burst into a driving rain. A fever of unrest permeated the stormy 
atmosphere as the catafalque, beside which walked the old Marquis 
de la Fayette together with generals and high dignitaries, was borne 
through the streets, about the Vendome Column and along the boule- 
vard Bourdon. Minor skirmishes between angry students and stupid 
police marred the solemnity of the parade. One youth had his throat 
slashed and the blood streamed down on his July decoration. "Where 
are they leading us?" shrilled a student. A sonorous voice replied: 
"To the Republic! And we invite you to supper with us tonight 
in the Tuileries." Dumas saw men tearing up stakes which were used 
as props for the young trees that had replaced the old ones cut down 
during the Three Days. He understood that this multitude, grumbling 
to one another, clutching concealed pistols beneath wet cloaks, needed 
but a spark to inflame it. The body passed the city limits and the 
mourners surged back. The rain had stopped but the sky was still an 
abysmal black. 

Dumas, exhausted with the long march, was half-carried into a 
restaurant where he was revived with iced water and a huge fish pie. 
It was while he was eating that he heard the sharp clatter of five or 
six shots. His weakness seemed to leave him and throwing the price of 
the fish pie upon the table he ran out of the restaurant toward the 
nearest quai. There seemed to be a great commotion about the Pont 
d'Austerlitz. No doubt of it, another revolution was to succeed the 
ravages of the cholera in Paris. When Dumas reached the bridge he 
found it guarded by men in blouses. "What is it?" he shouted. "What 
has been happening?" One of the guards replied: "Only that they 
are firing on the people, and the artillery has returned the fire; phc 
Louis-Philippe is at his last gasp and the Republic is proclaimed. 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 251 

Vive la Republiquc!" This declaration was, to say the least, premature. 
It was true enough that within an hour or so a state of insurrection 
existed in the city, but it was a demoralized insurrection, lacking in 
the unified ferociousness of the Three July Days. Dumas, from a 
window of the Porte Saint-Martin theater, to which he had retreated 
when the sharp crackle of gunfire in the surrounding streets had 
grown ominously close, saw a mother beating her son because he had 
thrown a stone at a dragoon. The playwright lowered his head. 
'The women are not with us this time," he muttered. "We are lost!" 
The specters of shouting women with flashing eyes and loosened hair, 
those tigresses of the proletariat who fell at the barricades with their 
men, flashed across his mind. 

Revolutionists were hammering at the stage door of the Porte Saint- 
Martin and Dumas, recovering from his reverie, ran down the stairs 
to Harel who was walking up and down wringing his hands. "They 
will pillage the theater," exclaimed the manager. Dumas faced the 
perspiring men. They wanted rifles. If it was necessary they would 
seize them. Dumas made one of his dramatic gestures. "Have twenty 
rifles brought out, Harel," he said. When the guns they had been 
used for properties in the ill-fated Napoleon were produced, Dumas 
distributed them to the insurgents saying, "It is I, Alexandre Dumas, 
who lend you these guns; those who get killed I will not bother, but 
those who survive will bring back their arms. Is that understood?" 
It was, A few minutes later the theater was empty. Dumas, changing 
his clothes he had been wearing an artilleryman's uniform pro- 
ceeded to M. Laffitte's house where he listened to the startled deputies 
as they hissed like geese. 

The Republicans could not carry the city with them and by the next 
morning, June sixth, only two quarters, those of the Place de la Bastille 
and the streets contiguous to the entrance of the Faubourg Saint- 
Antoine, were defended by the insurgents. During the day these posi- 
tions were captured by governmental forces and the abortive revolu- 
tion collapsed. Dumas, pale and sick, saw the Republican hopes 
dissipated again by the disciplined front of the Royalist troops and the 
apathy of the populace. "Is not everything at an end now?" asked 
Francois Arago, when the coipmittee of deputies left Laffitte's house to 
seek out Louis-Philippe and protest against the revolt of the pr evioro 



252 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

day. "No!" said a man of the people who was standing near Arago, 
"They are waiting for the tocsin from the Church of Saint-Merry, for 
so long as a $ic\ man's death rattle can be heard he is dive" It was 
not time for the tocsin. 

Dumas began to worry about his own skin. He knew that he had 
been under suspicion as a militant republican for almost a year. Harel, 
whose eye was always cocked on business, came to him on the seventh 
of June and demanded a play. Reluctantly Dumas dragged forth three 
acts of a drama called Le Fils de V&migr& which he had begun some 
time before from a hint by Anicet Bourgeois. The playwright was 
ill and worried. He felt lethargic. He had pains in the head. He 
wanted to get away from Paris, to go on a journey and refresh his 
mind with new scenes and strange customs. He was also fearful. 
Any moment there might come a knock at the door and behind the 
summons might appear an officer of the police. During the seventh 
and eighth of June he called in Anicet Bourgeois and they scrambled 
together the last two acts of Le Fils de l',migr. On die ninth of 
June, Dumas read in a legitimist paper that he had been taken with 
arms upon him at the Cloitre Saint-Merry, judged by court-martial 
during the night and shot at three o'clock in the morning. The 
account of the execution was so vivid that the startled Dumas felt his 
body for probable bullet holes. The next morning he received a letter 
from Charles Nodier which read: 

My dear Alexandre I have at this moment read in a newspaper 
that you were shot on June 6, at three in the morning. Be so good 
as to tell me if it will prevent you from coming to dine tomorrow 
at the Arsenal, with Dauzats, Taylor, Bixio and in fact our usual 
friends. Your very good friend, Charles Nodier, who will be de- 
lighted at the opportunity to ask you for news of the other world. 

Dumas smiled a trifle wanly and wrote back that his shadow would 
appear at the Arsenal. He was but the shadow of himself now. The 
cholera had made mare serious inroads than he had imagined, and the 
excitement of the early June days with their abortive revolution and 
the trouble over La Tour de Nesle had retarded his health still more. 
It was an ill young man, therefore, who received a brief visit from a 



THE TRIUMPH OF ANTONY 253 

polite aide-de-camp of the King bearing news that the advisability of 
the playwright's arrest was under consideration and that perhaps the 
air abroad might be beneficial. Louis-Philippe was tired of his quad- 
roon play-boy with the tfoc-mont&e. 

For a month or six weeks Dumas was occupied in clearing up his 
affairs, forcing five thousand francs out of the niggardly Harel, secur- 
ing a passport and bidding farewell to all his friends. On the evening 
of July 21, 1832, he drove through the gates of Paris towards Auxerre. 
The city by the Seine looked beautiful in the dim light: church spires, 
the dome of the Institute, the Vendome Column, and the towers of 
Notre Dame gleaming against the mauve canopy of the sky. He had 
been a part of the city's life for nine years without interruption and 
now he was an exile. He sighed and set his face toward Switzerland, 
At least there were mountains there and he had never seen mountains. 



CHAPTER TWO 



NOMAD 



DUMAS was enchanted with Switzerland. He played like a boy and 
his illness fell from him as by magic. He forgot the aggravating whirl 
of Paris, the nervous tension of theatrical productions and the dangers 
of republican manifestations. At Geneva he admired the jewel shops, 
especially the large one conducted by Beautte, and all his negro blood 
yearned for the glittering arrays of precious stones. He went to the 
theater and saw Jenny Vertpre, "cette gracieuse miniature de Made- 
moiselle Mars" in one of her more famous roles. At Ferney (now 
Ferney-Voltaire) he visited the chapel and read the inscription, "Deo 
Erexit Voltaire/' and dryly remarked, "Its object is to let the world 
know that God and Voltaire have become reconciled." He never 
approved of Voltaire-worship. At Coppet he wept beside the bed upon 
which Madame de Stael had died. At Bex he fished by night using a 
bill-hook and lighting his way with a lantern, and at the Lake of Zug 
he shot a trout with a fowling-piece. He visited Chamounix and saw 
the Mer de Glace and shivered, remarking that he suffered from 
md-de-mer. He went chamois hunting with Swiss guides and suffered 
from his usual attacks of dizziness when he climbed to high altitudes. 
He cooked a huge omelette for some charming women at an inn, 
observing: "An omelette is to cookery what a sonnet is to poetry." 
In other words, he was himself, jovial, witty, boyish, an agreeable table 
companion and a keen observer of life. Three of his pilgrimages 
deserve to be noted in greater detail. 

He breakfasted with M. de Chateaubriand at the Hotel de TAigle 
in Lucerne and stuttered like a country bumpkin, so much was he in 
awe of the old father of Romanticism. Chateaubriand was charm 

254 



NOMAD 255 

itself and he talked freely with Dumas about contemporary politics 
and his own attitude toward the perplexing problems of the day. The 
author of Le Genie du Christianisme was weary. He took Dumas to 
see the Lion of Lucerne and the younger man inquired: "Which 
names would be inscribed on the gravestones of royalty to balance 
these popular names if a similar monument were raised in France ?" 
"Not one!" replied Chateaubriand. "Do you really mean that?" ex- 
claimed Dumas. The old man said: "Perfectly; the dead do not get 
themselves killed.** Chateaubriand proceeded on his way to feed 
water-fowls, and Dumas followed him filled with an intense venera- 
tion for this calm veteran of life. "If you regret Paris so much/* he 
asked, "why not go back to it?" Chateaubriand answered: "I was at 
Cauterets when the July Revolution took place. I returned to Paris; 
I beheld one throne in blood and another in mud, lawyers drawing up 
a charter and a king shaking hands with rag-and-bone men. It was 
sad as death, especially when, as in my case, one is filled with the great 
traditions of monarchy." A moment later he murmured that Henri 
V, the son of the Duchesse de Berry, should have been made king 
in place of Louis-Philippe. Dumas reminded him of the evil genius 
that followed the name Henri. Henri I was poisoned, Henri II killed 
in tournament, Henri III and Henri IV assassinated. Chateaubriand 
shrugged his shoulders and replied: "It is better to die by poison than 
in exile; it is sooner over and one suffers less." 

Dumas's second pilgrimage was to Reichenau where Louis-Philippe 
in his days of exile had taught arithmetic and geography for five 
francs a day. His sentimentality conquered his anger here and Dumas 
wrote a long letter to the Prince Royal, the young Due d'Orl&ns, 
describing the small college and the schoolroom and suggesting that 
it be made into a memorial, This curious gesture on the part of a 
republican who had been invited by the royal house to leave Paris is 
evidence of the usual inconsistency in Dumas's political opinions* It 
was also, perhaps, a sly attempt to soften the irritation of Louis- 
Philippe. "It was," declared the sentimentalist in his letter to the 
King's son, "I admit, with emotion intermingled with pride, that, in 
this very place, in the room situated in tbe middle of the corridtor, 
with its folding door, its flower-painted side doors, its coraer 
places, its pictures of Louis XV surrounded with git aral>esqp&e$ 



256 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

its decorated ceiling; it was, I say with keen emotion, that, in this 
room, where the Due de Chartres had taught, I gathered information 
concerning the strange vicissitudes of a royal personage who, not 
wishing to beg the bread of exile, worthily bought it with his work/* 

A short while after dropping his tear over the vicissitudes of the 
Orleans family Dumas was at the Chateau d'Arenenberg paying his 
devoirs to Hortense Bonaparte, ex-Queen of Holland. He saw Madame 
Recamier there and thought that she was beautiful as she entered the 
hall dressed in a black gown and with a dark veil wound about her 
head and throaL Juliette was fifty-five years old at this time. Dumas 
pleased the ex-Queen and he remained at the chateau for three days, 
admiring the pictures of Napoleon, reading Victor Hugo's ode on the 
death of the due de Reichstadt, the clipped eaglet who had passed 
away at Schonbrunn on July twenty-second of this year, and discuss- 
ing politics with Hortense. The Queen sounded him thoroughly on 
the condition of affairs in Paris and Dumas made one amazing 
prophecy. Hortense asked him what advice he would give to a Bona- 
parte who dreamt of restoring the glory and power of Napoleon and 
Dumas answered: "I would tell him to obtain the cancelling of his 
exile, to buy a plot of ground in France and to make use of the 
immense popularity of his name to get himself elected a deputy, to 
try by his talent to win over the majority of the Chamber, and to use 
it to depose Louis-Philippe and become elected king in his stead.'* 
The shadow of the Coup d'lttat of 1851 must have hovered over 
Arenenberg for a moment. 

It was at Arenenberg that Dumas found French newspapers and 
hastily acquainted himself with what had transpired since his absence. 
M. Jay, a mediocre political writer, had been elected to the Academy 
over M. Thiers. A painter named Blondel had achieved the Institute 
with eighteen votes to Delaroche's three. Mademoiselle Falcon had 
made her debut in Robert le Diable. The Saint-Simonians were in 
trouble. Two men had received death sentences from the Seine Court 
of Assizes for political offences and Paris was in an uproar about it 
SIBCC the death of Louis XVIII capital punishment for political crimes 
had been superseded by gentler measures. And Le Fils de I'fimigrt 
by MM, Anicet Bourgeois and Alexandre Dumas was announced for 
immediate production at the Porte Saint-Martin theater. Dumas 



NOMAD 257 

decided to return to Paris. He had seen enough of Switzerland, his 
note-books were crammed with material and the vision of applauding 
audiences, midnight suppers and red mouths danced before his eyes. 

He reached Koenigsfelden before he secured a newspaper giving an 
account of the opening night of Lc Fils dc VlLmigrL The journal was 
his old enemy, Lc Constitutional, the periodical he had ridiculed in 
Antony, and it did not mince matters in its scathing treatment of the 
unfortunate drama Dumas had so hurriedly concocted with Bour- 
geois. Dumas, a trifle surprised at observing his name prominently 
displayed in the critique he had urged its suppression before he 
left Paris read grimly the account of how the disgusted audience 
rose before the final scene and left the theater. "Criticism of such 
plays as these is impossible," declared Lc Constitutional, "one leaves 
them as quickly as one can, as one kicks aside a repulsive object." 
And as a final prod at the playwright: "His talent seems to be 
completely dead." 

By the beginning of October Dumas was back in Paris and it was 
not long before he discovered that his fortunes had shifted once more. 
The debacle of Lc Fils dc VlLmigrt had practically ruined him as a 
dramatist. Henri 111 ct sa Cour, Antony, and La Tour dc Ncslc were 
forgotten. Nothing but the flat failure was remembered. Theatrical 
managers who had once been sycophantic now avoided him on the 
street and did not seem to notice him at dinners. Veron who but a 
short while before had been begging him for contributions to La 
Rcvuc dc Paris discovered that he had no room left in his periodical 
for the name of Dumas. Sneering innuendoes about the crisp-haired 
quadroon appeared in the smaller journals. Dumas swallowed hard. 
It was curious. It was incomprehensible. Ten months before Paris 
had been at his feet and Richard Darlington was the subject of sakm 
conversation. Six months before La Tour dc Ncslc had aroused specu- 
lation, argument and praise. And now he was as deserted as tfce 
cheapest and most unsuccessful boulevard dramatist. Well, Paris was 
like that, short-memoried, genuflecting before the shadow of success, 
haughty and distant to failure* Every triumph was but the mainte- 
nance of one's perilous position and each failure was a step backward. 
There was no progression. He had been away less than four montbs 



25 8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

and suffered one failure and now his name aroused either silence or 
ridicule. He looked in the Annuairc and read: "It is a mass of turpi- 
tudes, a sequence of scenes as false as they are ignoble, which it would 
disgust us to enumerate." That was about Le Fils de I'&migre, Then 
he turned to a review of a drama called Perinet Lcclcrc in the same 
issue and read: "It bears witness to literary and historic studies very 
rare in modern dramatists, and has in general the great advantage over 
most of the plays of this theater (the Porte Saint-Martin), particularly 
Le Fils de I'Emigre, of not revolting the spectator constantly by a 
jumble of crimes and pictures of debauchery each more horrible than 
the last." Well, well! Perinet Leclerc had been dramatized by Anicet 
Bourgeois and Lockroy from Dumas's scenes historiques in the Revue 
des Deux Mondes. But the Annuaire did not know that. And some 
time later when Dumas collected these same scenes historiques in book 
form he was accused of lifting the best situations from Perinet Leclerc. 
What should he do now? The Swiss journey had been expensive 
and among his many obligations were the care of his mother, Alex- 
andre ftls and Marie-Alexandre. Melanie S. had disappeared from his 
horizon but Ida Ferrier was relying upon him for the furtherance of 
her career. He had flung his money right and left, on beds, rich foods, 
extravagant garments and many women. It was a state of affairs that 
tortured him, for his tastes had been spoiled by success and the idea 
of eating six sous dinners in the rue de Tournon was too dreary a 
prospect. He knew that he would have to forsake the theater until 
the antagonism against him had died down. What else was he fitted 
for? News of the death of Sir Walter Scott gave him an idea. Prose! 
Why, yes. He had been told that he possessed wit, that he com- 
manded an excellent narrative vein. There were the scenes historiques, 
which had been printed by Buloz and there was his unfinished Gaule 
et France. He would settle down to the history of France and reinvig- 
orate it, injecting into it the passion which Scott had lacked. So 
during the late fall and winter of 1832 he led a quiet life, passing the 
greater part of his time in his apartment where he ravished the learned 
volumes of Thierry and Chateaubriand and pieced together his curi- 
ously unscholarly but vivid panorama of Gaule et France, a work 
extraordinarily readable, crammed with unexpected viewpoints and 
colored with astonishing prophecies, among them a prophecy of the 



NOMAD 259 

future Republic. It was a compilation, to be sure, but one so suffused 
with the ardent and reckless personality of the author that it assumed 
the stature of an original composition. M. Thiers's police arrested 
Madame la Duchesse de Berry at Nantes and Dumas continued to 
write. Victor Hugo's Le Roi s' Amuse was produced for one perform- 
ance in late November at the Theatre-Francis and then interdicted, 
but Dumas, so often the brilliant and noisy parakeet at premieres, did 
not attend. He was writing. Also, a coldness had crept into his rela- 
tions with the Sun-God, a rift widened by over-talkative mutual 
friends. The political trials of the periodicals, Le Carsaire and La 
Tribune, took place, and the right of association to discuss politics 
without authorization by the Government was established to the 
delirious joy of the Republicans, and still Dumas wrote. Herold's 
opera, Le Pre-aux-Clercs, was sung at the Opera Comique and the 
pen of the amateur historian continued to travel steadily over sheet 
after sheet of blue paper. To begin a new career at thirty required 
intensive application. 

II 

As the year 1833 moved toward a fair spring and the chill winds 
that roared through the Cite and along the boulevards diminished, 
the busy pen of Dumas began to slacken. Huge piles of manuscript 
cluttered the broad table in the Square d'Orleans. Beside his Gatde 
et France, now almost ready for the press, he was composing a series 
of articles about his Swiss travels, essays so compact with humor and 
sprightliness that the lean Buloz snapped them up for his Remte des 
Deux Mondes. Money was beginning to flow into the empty coffers. 
It was time to relax again, to refresh himself at those bright social 
fountains of wit and laughter that dotted the city. The Sunday eve- 
ning gatherings at the Arsenal found him as buoyant as ever, as 
expansive in his affection for Charles Nodier. The cafes knew him. 
In a cerise gilet and a green cloak he could be seen at the Caf de 
Paris, that gathering place of journalists, deep in conversation with his 
old friends, Nestor Roqueplan, Alpioase de Leuven, V6ron, Duf ouge- 
rais, the director of La Made, and Maz6res, die dramatist. Or he 
would be sprawled at one of the small tables in the Cafe du Divan 



260 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

discoursing with that comedian, Mry the Marseilleise, or the brilliant 
Henri Monnier, or the exuberant Theophile Gautier, or the strange 
Gerard de Nerval whom he had recently met. At the Cafe des Aveuglcs 
he sat and listened to Blondelet play upon four tambours at once. 
Time passed rapidly in this way. Gaule et France was entrusted to the 
printer and the series of chapters on Switzerland was refashioned into 
the first Impressions de Voyage. 

Into this vibrant activity came the dark shadow of perplexing poli- 
tics once more. Early in February mysterious reports concerning the 
illness of the captive Duchesse de Berry appeared in the periodicals. 
The meaning was plain: Madame was enceinte. An immediate fury 
broke out in the antagonistic camps of Legitimists and Republicans. 
La Corsaire bluntly intimated the cause of Madame's seclusion and a 
Legitimist paper, Revenant, after refuting this calumny on royalty, 
received a collective challenge from the Republicans. Paris became a 
whirlpool of passions, and young men stalked about breathing oaths, 
oiling their pistols and polishing their swords. Armand Carrel, editor 
of Le National, composed a diatribe against the Duchesse de Berry, 
and immediately received a list of twelve Legitimists, one of whom 
he was required to meet. Dumas could not disengage himself from 
the mounting fever. He flew to Carrel's house and offered himself 
as an opponent against the twelve Legitimists. Carrel, who had become 
anti-Romantic and therefore cool toward Dumas, patiently explained 
that it was to be only a single encounter. A few days later Roux- 
Laborie, the representative of the Legitimists, shot Carrel through the 
groin during a formal duel. Carrel became one of the heroes of the 
city. Renewed challenges flew like a flock of birds through the streets 
and Dumas, pressing eagerly toward the field of action, proceeded to 
challenge the Legitimist Beauchene. Carrel, however, after a few days 
of danger, grew convalescent and forbade any more duels. The storm 
died down, and Dumas, who had been only moderately interested in 
the Duchesse de Berry's immaculate status, returned to his prose. 

On the tenth of May Madame la Duchesse de Berry, confined in the 
Citadel of Blaye, gave birth to a daughter. She had been secretly 
married to Comte Hector de Lucchesi-Palli, a prince of the House of 
Campo-Franco. 



NOMAD 261 

His brief foray into political excitement terminated, Dumas found 
the composition of prose rather dull. He had attended the first per* 
formance of Hugo's Lucrtcc Borgia in spite of the coldness existing 
between him and the Sun-God, and the sight of an audience, the 
glitter of the stage and the musty scent of the dusty theater had 
awakened a nostalgia. After all, there was nothing comparable to 
sitting in an author's box and listening to the plaudits of the mob* 
Memories of the premieres of Henri 111 et sa Cour, of Antony, Richard 
Darlington, La Tour dc Ncsle, flooded back to his mind. The debacle 
of Le Fils dc VfLmigrt was forgotten. It would soon be a year since 
it had halted his dramatic career. The sight of Anicet Bourgeois, the 
faithful Anicet, looming in his doorway one morning brought these 
reveries to a decision. Couldn't something be done with that idea he 
had given Anicet for a play some time before the Swiss journey? 
Anicet's eyes sparkled. Within a week they were collaborating on a 
drama which they called Anglic and which would serve Ida Ferrier, 
whose plumpness was steadily increasing through inaction, as a means 
of return to public favor. 

Gaulc ct "France was published during the late summer, and though 
Dumas as a historian was laughed at in some quarters, he was taken 
seriously by a number of indubitable authorities. Augustin Thierry 
was frank in his praise. It was possible that he recognized his own 
influence in the work. The amateur historian prepared to settle back 
and bask in the warm sun of a new renown. 

The pleasant days of autumn passed and then, on the first of 
November, Dumas was awakened from his day-dream. A ferocious 
attack on his work appeared in the Journal des D&bats. It was signed 
by one Granier de Cassagnac and it accused the playwright-historian 
of filching his situations and characters from Goethe, Schiller, Waker 
Scott and Lope de Vega. This first article was based mainly cm Gaulc 
ct "France but it was followed by others, the second appearing 00 the 
sixteenth of the month, and in them the new critic of the amazed 
Dumas arrayed in order a long display of various plagiarisms to be 
found in Henri III et sa Cour, Christine, and Charles VII chez ses 
grands vassaux* There was sufficient ground for some of these accusa- 
tions, but Cassagnac often exceeded himself in the heat of his subject, 
attributing to Dumas debts that were, to say the least, extremely 



262 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

remote. Too many situations were common property and Romanti- 
cism itself paraded too boldly in borrowed plumage to warrant forcing 
Dumas into the position of scapegoat. Who was Granier de Cas- 
sagnac ? He was an obstreperous young journalist who had been born 
in Gers, who had come to Paris in 1832, who had attached himself to 
the Romantic cause and who had been tucked graciously and conde- 
scendingly under the regal wing of Victor Hugo. It was not long 
until Dumas discovered that the Sun-God had been responsible, either 
actively or tacitly, for the Cassagnac attack. It was Hugo who had 
recommended Cassagnac to the editors of the Journal des Debats. 
It was Hugo who had revised the proofs of the first article. The 
reasons for this curious estrangement between the two field marshals 
of the Romantic army were not hard to find. Hugo, swollen with 
pride, was at the same time the victim of an almost feminine jealousy. 
The successes of Dumas had been too much for him. The nobody 
from Villers-Cotterets was a constant topic of discussion in the news- 
papers and salons. The pre-eminence of Victor Hugo was threatened. 
Another more subtle reason became apparent five days later when, on 
the fifth of November, Hugo's Marie Tudor was produced and re- 
vealed itself as having been inspired by Dumas's Christine. The Sun- 
God was merely covering himself. His Lucrece Borgia which had 
appeared so short a time before, also bore points of resemblance to 
La Tour de Nesle. He who was not above suspicion could think of 
nothing better than to divert that suspicion as speedily as possible. It 
was for this reason that Cassagnac even accused Dumas of pillaging 
HernanL Then, too, Dumas's wit irritated Hugo. During one of their 
infrequent meetings in theater foyers Dumas had exclaimed: "Why 
do you make the poor sickly bigoted Mary into a shameless courtesan?" 
Hugo had responded grandly, "For that matter, what pains you took 
to violate your Queen Christine." Dumas's reply was crushing: 
"Quand je la mole, moi, je lui fais un enfant!" 

Hugo's vicarious victory through the pen of Granier de Cassagnac 
was short lived. Dumas wrote a warm letter of expostulation to him, 
and the perturbed Sun-God strove to dodge the indictment, at la^t 
weakly intimating that the article had been printed by mistake. The 
thin excuse did not blind the ranks of the Romanticists. Even Saiate- 
Beuve, struggling between his intense admiration for Hugo's work 



NOMAD 263 

and his badly concealed love for Hugo's wife, deplored it. Alfred de 
Vigny, always a friend of Dumas, was emphatic in his disapprobation 
as were most of the younger writers. Comments against Hugo began 
to appear in the papers. Nevertheless the damage had been done and 
the smirch of plagiarism was never to be lifted from Dumas's work 
during his lifetime. His curious method of collaboration was mis- 
represented, his originality of temperament was denied and his vitality 
and magic touch were ignored. 

This onslaught did not retard his vigor, however. He was welcom- 
ing the publication of the first Impressions de Voyage, attending the 
rehearsals of Angele at the Porte-Saint-Martin and moving his effects 
to a larger and more elaborate apartment at number thirty, rue Bleu. 
Thereafter Ida Ferrier and Dumas possessed the same address. Angle 
was produced on December 28, 1833, and proved to be a success. 
It was to be the last of the plays in the vein of Antony except pos- 
sibly one. That group, which includes Richard Darlington in addition 
to the two mentioned, and possibly Kean, gave a romantico-melodra- 
matic picture of the moeurs contemporains of the 18305, and from it 
sprang a vast number of natural successors. But as far as Dumas's 
development was concerned, the vein was ended. Of over fifty plays 
that he was still to write (one cannot be sure of die number) more 
than half were based on historical characters and periods. In some 
cases the plots were frankly fantastical. A further group included 
operettas and light comedies. The success of Angele acceieratsd 
Dumas's dramatic impetus and as the year 1833 ended, the conceptions 
of several dramas were stirring in his mind. 

Ill 

Three important episodes marked the restless life of Dumas daring 
the year 1834. Catherine Howard was produced; the ^^^rangis 
attempted a rapprochement; and he fought a duel with Frederic 
Gaillardet. Interweaving this trio of occurrences were the compk- 
cated threads of his vividly-hued existence, an existence that alternately 
amused and amazed Paris. His ceaseless energy carried him every- 
where, to the caf&, along the wide stretches of &e boulevards ad 
through the auditoriums and green rooms of a dozen theaters. We 



264 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

might be encountered at the exhibitions of pictures, draped in his 
extravagant garments, sometimes with the plump Ida Ferrier clutch- 
ing his arm. Again he might be observed at the studio of some writer 
or artist with Alexandre fits. His prose articles continued to make a 
fairly regular appearance in the Revue des Deux Mondes, He had a 
hand in several plays. There was La Vcnitiennc, for example, which 
was produced at the Porte-Saint-Martin theater on March 18, 1834, 
and though announced as the work of Anicet Bourgeois it was in 
reality a collaboration between him and the author of Anglic. Later 
in the year, on June 24th, a revue produced under the tide of La Tour 
de Babel at the Theatre des Varietes revealed the witty touch of 
Dumas in several of its scenes. The young man acquired a secretary, 
an Italian named Rusconi who had served General Dermoncourt in 
the same capacity. He was again on the top of the wave, living his 
life in public and affording the newspapers amusing material for 
their pertinent paragraphs. 

It was in the early spring that the Theatre-Fran$ais, scene of Dumas's 
first triumphs, attempted a rapprochement. One bright morning the 
playwright was surprised to receive a summons to the Home Office 
from M. Thiers. M. Thiers did not beat about the bush. He pointed 
out that the Theatre-Franf ais was going to the devil, that Dumas and 
Hugo had been very successful at the Porte-Saint-Martin, and that 
he was considering playing the works of dead authors on Sundays 
only at the national house of drama and reserving the rest of the 
week for such living forces as Hugo and the young man before him. 
Dumas was properly impressed but at the same time he pointed out 
that the Theatre-Franjais required actors who could carry modern 
roles, such mimes, for instance, as Madame Dorval, Bocage and Fr&i- 
eric Lemaitre. Thiers compromised. He agreed to the admission of 
Madame Dorval and an understanding that the other players were 
to be engaged later. He further agreed that Dorval should make her 
debut in Antony. Dumas, for his part, agreed to write two pieces a 
year for the Th^atre-Franjais, Hugo presumably to be approached on 
the same terms. So much was settled and Dumas hurried away from 
the Home Office to acquaint Madame Dorval with her elevation to 
the national theater. At first matters went smoothly. "The little 
Dorval," whose contract had not been renewed at the Porte-Saint- 



NOMAD 265 

Martin, was delighted. Antony was placed in rehearsal, that same 
Antony that had been almost killed by the recalcitrance of Made- 
moiselle Mars and Firmin. The date of the premiere was fixed, April 
28, 1834. But Dumas had failed to take into account his old enemy, 
Lc Constitutional. On the morning of the day set for the premiere 
Dumas's ten-year-old son thrust a fresh copy of Lc Constitutional 
into his father's hands. The boy had been sent by Goubaux with 
whom, at that time, he was at school, Dumas unfolded the paper 
and noticed mention of the Theatre-Franfais in the first line of the 
leading article. He sat down and read it through. 

Public money (thundered Lc Constitutional in a fine academical 
frenzy) is not intended for the encouragement of a pernicious sys- 
tem. The sum of two hundred thousand francs is only granted to 
the Theatre-Fran^ais on condition that it shall keep itself pure from 
all defilement, that the artistes connected with that theater, who are 
still the best in Europe, shall not debase themselves by lending the 
support of their talent to those works which are unworthy to be 
put on the national stage, works the disastrous tendency of which 
should arouse the anxiety of the Government, for it is responsible 
for public morality as well as for the carrying out of laws. Well, 
who would believe it? At this very moment the principal actors 
of the Porte-Saint-Martin are being transferred to the Theatre- 
Fran^ais, and silly and dirty melodramas are to be naturalized there, 
in order to replace the dramatic masterpieces which form an impor- 
tant part of our glorious literature. A plague of blindness appears 
to have afflicted this unhappy theater. The production of Antony 
is officially announced by Lc Moniteur for tomorrow, Monday. 
Antony the most brazenly obscene play that has appeared in these 
obscene times! Antony, at the first performance of which respect- 
able fathers of families exclaimed, "For a long time we have IK& 
been able to take our daughters to the theater; now, we can no 
longer take our wives!" So we are going to see at the theater of 
Corneille, Racine, Moliere and Voltaire, a woman flung into an 
alcove with her mouth gagged; we are to witness violation itself 
on the national stage; the day of this representation is fixed. What 
a school of morality to open to the public; what a spectacle to 



266 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

which to invite the youth of the country; you boast you are ele- 
vating them, but they will soon recognize neither rule nor control! 
It is not its own fault; but that of superior powers, which take no 
steps to stem this outbreak of immorality. There is no country in 
the world, however free, where it is permissible to poison the wells 
of public morality. In ancient republics, the presentation of a dra- 
matic work was the business of the state; it forbade all that could 
change the national character, undermine the honor of its laws and 
outrage public modesty. 

Dumas whistled to himself, thought of the Lysistrata, smiled wryly 
and hurried off to the Theatre-Fran^ais to supervise the final dress 
rehearsal of Antony. At two o'clock in the afternoon Jouslin de la 
Salle, the manager, walked up to him and silently presented him with 
a note. It read: 

The Thatre~Fran$ais is forbidden to play Antony tonight 

Thiers. 

Dumas jumped into a cab and was driven to the Home Office. 

M. Thiers shrugged his shoulders. He understood how hard it was 
on Dumas. It was true that Antony had been disrupted from its run 
at the Porte-Saint-Martin. It was also true that Madame Dorval was 
in a bad fix, that she had no role for her debut. But . . . He shrugged 
his shoulders again. It was not the article in Le Constitutional that 
had occasioned this volte-face on the part of the Government. It was 
something else altogether. It was the Budget. "The . . . what?" 
inquired Dumas. Thiers repeated it: the Budget. "What has the 
National Budget to do with my play?" asked the dramatist. "I had 
the whole Chamber against me," explained Thiers. "If Antony had 
been allowed to be played tonight, the Budget would not have passed. 
Remember that such people as Jay (who had written the leader in 
Le Constitutionnel), fitienne, Viennet and so forth . . . can com- 
mand a hundred votes in the Chamber, a hundred people who vote 
like one man. I was pinned into a corner Antony and no budget, 
or a budget and no Antony I" Thiers shrugged again. He concluded: 
"Ah, my boy, remain a dramatic author and take good care never 
to become a Minister!" 



NOMAD 267 

Dumas brought suit at once against Jouslin de la Salle, as manager 
of the Theatre-Fran^ais, in the Tribunal de Commerce for breach of 
contract, and after some delay due to dilatory tactics on the part of 
the defence, gained ten thousand francs' damages. The decision, in 
reality, was against the Government and not against the hampered 
theater. Once again the young dramatist had been treated shabbily 
by the national home of drama. The moss-covered walls of the 
classical Bastille still held firm against the assaults of modernity. 

The irrespressible young man, after his customary fulminations 
against those in the seats of the mighty, turned to Catherine Howard. 
This play, rewritten from that Edith aux longs cheveux which had 
slumbered in his escritoire for two years, was, according to its author, 
an "extra-historic" drama. He meant that the action was purely 
imaginary although the characters were historical. "I merely used 
Henry VIII as a nail whereon to hang my picture," he announced 
in the preface to the printed version. King Lear and Cymbeline 
afforded precedents for such an unusual proceeding, he explained. He 
forgot that Lear and Cymbeline were mythical creatures and that 
the imagination of the dramatist might do what it desired with them 
whereas Henry VIII and Catherine Howard were well known his- 
torical characters whose existences were fairly familiar to the intelli- 
gent public. * But Dumas was toujours audace. He offered the Parisian 
public a surprising drama in which Catherine Howard's husband 
gives her a narcotic to save her from Henry VIIL The bluff King 
Hal, thinking his prospective bride dead, weds her anyway by placing 
a ring on her apparently lifeless finger. Catherine, issuing from her 
trance, becomes feminine enough to desire to reign and accepts the 
crown. Thereupon the miserable husband uses the narcotic himself 
to escape the vengeance of the King. The drama ends with the exe- 
cution of Catherine at the hands of her resuscitated husband, the 
curious fellow reappearing as a masked hangman Ic bourreau, that 
dismal individual for whom Dumas displayed such affection all his 
life* 

Catherine Howard was produced at the Porte-Saint-Martin theater 
on June 2, 1834, and scored an emphatic success. Delafosse played 
Henry VIII and Ida Fcrrier essayed the role of Catherine, The 



268 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

dependable Lockroy was cast as Ethelwood, Due de Dierham, the 
unfortunate husband of Catherine. Dumas went about explaining 
that in Antony he had made a drama of exception, in Teresa a drama 
of generality, in Richard Darlington one of politics, in La Tour de 
Nesle a drama of imagination, in Napoleon a drama of circumstance, 
in Angtlc a drama of manners, in Henri III ct sa Cour a drama of 
history and in Catherine Howard a drama of extra-history. 

Early in the autumn an officious friend placed a copy of La Musee 
des Families into the hands of Dumas who saw therein an article on 
La Tour dc Nesle written by Frederic Gaillardet. Gaillardet had dis- 
appeared into the backwardness of Time during the past two years. 
He had won his law-suit over La Tour de Nesle which had now run 
some two to three hundred performances, and his name had been 
displayed prominently on the bills of the sensational drama. The 
vexed issue of actual authorship had lain dormant during that time. 
Dumas still counted the play as his own. So did Gaillardet. The 
article in La MusSe des Families brought the dragging argument to 
its climax. Dumas, reading Gaillardet's historical account of the 
infamous Tour de Nesle, happened upon a sentence in which the 
younger playwright declared La Tour de Nesle to be his "first and 
best drama." With more testiness that usual the older man responded 
in a long letter to Henri Berthoud, director of La MusSe des Families, 
in which he gave his own version of the authorship of the play, assert- 
ing flatly that the composition owed little or nothing to Gaillardet's 
script. Gaillardet immediately answered with his version of the facts, 
a recapitulation that defiantly affirmed that he, an innocent and help- 
less young man, had been the victim of a series of felonies on the 
part of Harel and Dumas. As a matter of fact, the problem is a vexed 
one and not likely ever to be fully solved. Gaillardet undoubtedly 
conceived the idea and a part of the structure. Janin added a few 
improvements, mostly dialogue, to the Gaillardet version. Dumas 
unquestionably rewrote the entire piece and moulded it into a clever 
and sensational melodrama. Harel indubitably attempted to cheat 
Gaillardet out of his share of the honors. All except Janin were at 
fault. Gaillardet had a collaborator forced upon him but he was too 
inexperienced to comprehend that his drama was worthless until it 



NOMAD 269 

was made into a play a technical feat he could not perform. Dumas 
slighted the young man too much, calmly appropriating his idea and, 
with that superabundance of thoughtless acquisition that was his, 
claiming all the honors. Harel was "that rascal" always, placing 
clever business shifts before integrity. There was only one answer 
to the question now, Dumas issued a challenge to Gaillardet. 

The two men met at Saint-Mand about noon on October 17, 1834. 
Dumas, accompanied by two acquaintances who were acting for him, 
Longpre and Maillan, arrived first, breathing fire and fury. Shortly 
afterward Gaillardet, clothed entirely in black, reached the duelling 
ground with his two seconds, Frederic Soulie and Fontan. Alexandre 
Bixio made his appearance as surgeon to the event. There was the 
usual strutting to and fro, and Dumas, who had set his heart on 
swords (they were safer), made a final plea for them. But Gaillardet 
as the challenged party possessed the right of choice and he .insisted 
on pistols. Dumas began to brood upon the fact that it was very 
difficult to hit a skinny young man garmented in dark clothing. He 
put forth a last despairing request for swords (the seconds could 
always halt a duel with swords before it reached too perilous a, situa- 
tion and bullets had an unpleasant way of reaching mortal spots) 
but Gaillardet was adamantine. Pistols it would have to be. Dumas, 
who had no right to question the challenged party's choice of weapons, 
ordered a five franc piece spun in the air and a declaration to be 
written down that the challenged party's seconds refused to permit 
the selection of weapons to be decided by lot. This was done aact a 
perturbed dramatist with crinkly hair took his position. The signal 
was given and Gaillardet, pale and determined, ran to the limit line 
and waited for Dumas who advanced slowly, ziz-zagging as much 
as possible to embarrass the aim of his opponent Gaillardet fired but 
his excited aim was so bad that Dumas did not even hear the whistle 
of the bullet. He waggled a hand to the four witnesses to show that 
he had not been hit. Then he fired in his turn, discharging his pistol 
at random, he explained later, because he could find no spot of wlAe 
on the black-clothed antagonist at which to aim. It did not occur 
to him to aim directly at tie black figure who was so tew yards away* 
After these discharges Dumas demanded that the pistols be 
again and GaUlardet, much to Dumas's unrest, seconded tlie 



27 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

The attendants, however, refused to permit the duel to go any further. 
Dumas then suggested that swords be used* Gaillardet promptly 
demurred. A few solemn phrases were mouthed and the combatants 
climbed into their respective cabs and drove back to Paris. Honor 
was satisfied. Until 1851 Frederic Gaillardet's name alone was on the 
play-bills of La Tour de Nesle. 

IV 

Restlessless had disturbed Dumas long before his Optra boufic 
encounter with Frederic Gaillardet, a restlessness that the excitement 
of rehearsals, political exasperations, prose publications and social 
febrilities could not dissipate. He had eaten the strange fruit of travel 
and the flavor of it was pleasant. He was now to become a citizen 
of the world. During the thirty-six years of his life that remained 
he was to occupy the majority of them in traveling, in observing 
foreign places and in setting down his impressions in that long and 
amusing series of impressions dc voyage that had started with the 
Switzerland volume. 

Shortly after the duel with Gaillardet he was off on the real begin- 
ning of these journeys the Swiss trip had been no more than a forced 
prologue accompanied by Godefroy Jadin, Amaury Duval and a 
dripping-mouthed bulldog by the name of Mylord. The Midi of 
France was Dumas's objective and during the winter he explored that 
pleasant terrain with all the assiduity of the enthusiastic amateur. 
Through Aigues-Mortes, Aries, Tarascon, Beaucaire, Nimes, Avignon, 
Valence, Orange, Vaucluse and Marseilles, including a trip to Corsica, 
he passed searching out the centers of architectural and antiquarian 
interest, talking to natives, studying their habits and filling notebook 
after notebook. He avoided the towns where the new monster of 
machinery ruled, for he hated and feared the callous insensibility of 
iron. In the Rhone valley although he was a meager drinker he 
revelled in the wine of Saint-Peray. At Cavaillon he bargained for 
juicy melons, offering his works in exchange. At Nimes he walked 
by night in the ruined amphitheater h la Chateaubriand, striving to 
revive in h& imagination the vanished society that had shouted itself 
hoarse in this stone arena. It was here that Mylord, dripping hate 



NOMAD 271 

and poison from his fat jaws, strove to attack the bulls during the 
branding. At Mornas the self-confident traveler experienced difficul- 
ties in comprehending the peculiar Provencal dialect of the natives 
and was tempted to imitate an Englishman who cackled when he 
desired an egg. At Avignon, he insisted on sleeping in room number 
three in the H6tel du Palais-Royal where his godfather, Marechal 
Brune, had been assassinated by the inflamed populace. At Aries 
another burst of sentimentality produced a short fit of religious humil- 
ity and he offered fervent prayers before the little wooden saint he 
had blithely stolen from a church in Baux. So he passed through the 
Midi accompanied by his amused entourage, dividing his time between 
melons and prayers, saints and bull-branding, wine and sentimental 
speeches about Marechal Brune. Wherever he went he collected 
stories, anecdotes, bits of local color, tatters of knowledge and historical 
facts. The notebooks swelled with a heterogenous treasure. 

No sooner had he returned to Paris, taken a few turns about the 
boulevards, looked into several theaters, shuffled together a number 
of short stories for a prospective volume to be published by Dumont, 
kissed the white hands of "the little Dorval" and Mademoiselle Mars, 
and reveled in the plump charms of Ida Ferrier, than he longed to 
get away again. This time he would broaden his travels, cross frontiers 
and walk through the streets of Rome. Early in 1835 ^ e departed, 
having accomplished nothing in Paris, accompanied as before by 
Jadin and the cat-terrorizing Mylord. Scattering money right and 
left he passed through Hyeres and viewed from the misty shore the 
dark islands of Port Cros and Porquerolles; through Draguignan 
where he saw the mound of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Medi- 
terranean, coast; through Grasse where he meditated on Fragonard 
who was born there. He passed through Cannes and observed St. Mar- 
guerite in the distance crowned by the dark fortress where the Man 
in the Iron Mask had once been immured and to whose crumbled 
door an as yet uncreated hero named d'Artagnan was to come; through 
Golf c Juan, dreaming for a moment beside the quietly lapping water 
over which had come the Emperor from Elba twenty years before; 
through Nice, the birthplace of Massena, and so along the scarped 
Comiche to the mountainous frontier of Italy, Turning back foe a 
moment he recollected pleasant incidents that had marked this 



272 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

through France. He had discovered the Mediterranean and even 
issued a manifesto about it. At Marseilles he had eaten Gargantuan 
dinners with the jolly Mery and listened to his amusing tale of 
La Chaste au Chastre. A convict had hailed him in the little seaport 
of Toulon and claimed Mademoiselle Mars as a mutual acquaintance. 
The fellow had been footman to the famous actress and was now on 
his way to Genoa after having stolen the jewels of the tragedienne. It 
had all been amusing, instructive and unusual, a sea of life and his- 
torical memories from which he had fished up many an outlandish 
murex to grace the rich fare of the impressions de voyage. It was time 
to cross the frontier. 

Genoa was charming but he had not been long in the birthplace 
of Christopher Columbus before he was visited by emissaries of King 
Charles-Albert of Sardinia who politely ordered him out of the state. 
He was, it seemed, under suspicion of being a radical. Both irritated 
and pleased, Dumas sailed for Naples. There he planted his head- 
quarters, having changed his identity to that of an M. Guichard whose 
passport he was using. But the idea of the boisterous playwright 
concealing himself was ridiculous. Though for a time he masqueraded 
as M. Guichard and wandered about the countryside viewing ruins 
and listening to stories about brigands, it was not for long. He stood 
out too prominently on the landscape. His personality was too pro- 
nounced. He was too fond of hinting his identity. The expected 
therefore happened when, one morning, he was awakened by a Com- 
missionaire de Police and carried off to his office and submitted to 
an interrogatory. It was not so easy, after all, for a talkative son of a 
Napoleonic General to peregrinate through the Italian states. Why 
was he traveling under a false name? Dumas explained it was because 
King Ferdinand would not let him travel under his own. It was a 
very good excuse and ought to have silenced the officious policeman. 
It did nothing of the sort. What was his right name? Dumas 
announced it with gusto: Alexandre Dumas. Had he any titles? 
Dumas drew himself up. He certainly had. His grandfather had 
received the title of Marquis from Louis XIV and his father had 
refused that of Count from Napoleon. He stretched the fact a bit in 
this last affirmation, but according to Dumasian logic if the Emperor 
had not hated his father he might have given him the title of Count 



NOMAD 273 

All the Marchaux had possessed it. And General Dumas had missed 
the baton sheerly because of his Republican sentiments. Therefore, 
he had, so to speak, refused the title. The weary police officer 
remarked: "Why don't you assume your title?" Dumas answered: 
"Because I can get on just as well without it." This crusher did not 
deter the officer from making some remarks about prison. Where- 
upon Dumas produced various letters, one from the French minister 
of public instruction which commended the traveler to the kind 
ministrations of foreign officials. The officer shrugged his shoulders 
and within a short period of time Dumas, Jadin and the bulldog were 
on their way to Rome, where it was to be hoped hospitality would 
prove warmer. 

In the Holy City he was granted an audience with Pope Greg- 
ory XVI. The day was one of excitement and dismay for Dumas. 
He had no uniform and the lack of gold stripes and plumes dis- 
heartened him greatly. He was still more disheartened when he 
disgorged his dress suit from his luggage and found it lamentably 
worn about the elbows and knees. His legs tottered beneath him as 
he ascended the steps of the Vatican. Pope Gregory XVI was gracious- 
ness itself and smiled as Dumas kissed his toe and exclaimed, "TiK 
et Petrol" The conversation between the two men was amusing. 
Gregory XVI delicately reproached Dumas for being a wandering 
child and further declared that the stage should be a pulpit. The 
author of Antony blamed the corruption of the theater on Voltaire 
and Beaumarchais. He for his part would like nothing better than to 
be a missionary in the theater but he would be instantly sacrificed if 
he attempted any such quixotic role. However, if His Holiness would 
encourage him . . . Dumas dropped his eyes modestly* He was 
already meditating a subject for a grand moral play. It was about 
Caligula. "You might introduce the Early Christians/ 5 remarked the 
Pope naively. Dumas was uncertain. There might b^ difficulties about 
the lions. Still ... he would see. As a matter of fact Caligula had 
been suggested by Anicct Bourgeois as a possible framework to 
display a trained horse owned by the Cirque FranconL Gregory XVI 
still smiling, gave Dumas his benediction and several rosaries anct 
crucifixes and the solemn playwright backed out of the holy presence. 
A few days later he had departed from Rome and was at 



274 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Castcllana Dumas was apprehended by Papal carabinicrs and 
escorted to the border of the papal states. The Pope might welcome 
him but the Pope's officials would do nothing of the sort Dumas 
discovered that he had been denounced from Paris as a writer of 
revolutionary plays and a member of the Polish Committee. With 
some bravado he admitted the revolutionary plays but he swore up 
and down that he had nothing to do with the Polish Committee. 
Florence was his next destination and here he found the refuge 
that was to be his second home for the rest of his life. Next to Paris 
he adored Florence. "Florence" he exclaimed, "cst VEldorado de la 
liberte individuelle" The month was June, the most charming of 
all months in Northern Italy, and the ancient city was preparing for 
the fetes of St. John. Flowers abounded, crowds of laughing and 
gesticulating merry-makers filled the streets, music sounded. It was 
all charming. It was even delightful to hear the many clocks in the 
city strike the same hour for twenty minutes. "Why is that?" asked 
Dumas, "why do they not coordinate time better here?" A nearby 
Tuscan responded: "Que diable avcz-vous besom de savoir I'heurc 
qu'il est?" It was true. Dumas settled down for some weeks of fine 
eating, short jaunts to neighboring sites of interest and pleasurable 
converse with the natives. The spell of Florence crept into his heart. 
He would return year after year to this pleasant spot. But even so 
he could not remain planted for any length of time, and charming 
though Florence was, it was not many weeks before he was planning 
an escape to other places. Together with Jadin and Mylord he engaged 
a boat and sailed about Sicily and Southern Italy, even visiting Naples 
again. He studied the Calabrian towns and expended a wealth of 
classical quotations over Paestum and its vanished roses. He made 
himself ill eating macaroni and polenta. He was caught in a terrific 
storm at sea and enjoyed unexpected sensations. He climbed volcanic 
slopes, ^Etna, Stromboli, and Mylord burned his paws on the way. 
Mylord, indeed, was a problem at times. He killed so many cats 
that it was necessary for Dumas to draw up a tariff of damages, pay- 
ing off the indignant Sicilians at the rate of one franc per slaugh- 
tered feline. At length, nearly two years having elapsed since he had 
gazed upon the towers of Paris, Dumas started toward the French 
capital. Waiting eagerly for him was the plump Ida whom he had 



NOMAD 275 

almost forgotten, his crippled mother who ventured forth very seldom 
now, and a tall boy of twelve who called him father. 



Dumas worked as he played, with an unremitting assiduity, and 
it was not long before he had regained the ground in Paris that two 
years' absence had sacrificed. He renewed old friendships, cultivated 
new editors and play producers, crept again into the public prints, 
manifested himself in the popular cafes and studios and scattered 
his ban mots about the city. In March a five-act piece called Lc Mar- 
quis dc Brunoy was produced at the Theatre des Varietes. Dumas, 
though unnamed, had a hand in it. At the same time he was whip- 
ping into shape more ambitious efforts, among them Kcan, written 
in collaboration with Theaulon and Frederic de Courcy, and Don 
Juan dc Marana, a mystery play. Parallel with these dramas was a 
volume of romanticized historical incidents called Isabel de Bav&rc, 
eight chapters of which had appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes. 
It was during this period that Dumas had a falling out with Buloz 
and ceased to contribute to his magazine. 

Don Juan de Marana was presented at the Porte-Saint-Martin 
theater on April 30, 1836. In a sense it marked the return of Dumas 
to the Parisian stage, for it had been two years less a month since his 
last acknowledged drama, Catherine Howard, had been produced. 
The new play proved to be a curious resumption of activities, for it 
was a "mysterc? a symbolical effort somewhat h la Calderon, a con- 
glomeration of spirits sacred and profane with the scene shifting from 
heaven to earth and once even to hell. Don Juan, he of Marana and 
not the libertine of Tenorio, was fought over by good and evil spirits. 
As usual Dumas, when he was in a hurry to produce something^ 
deliberately purloined a number of situations from other dramatists, 
and the scoffing Parisian critics observed to their mingled irritation 
and amusement, a musty and hollow mosaic based upon Prosper 
M&imee's Les Ames du Purgatoire and exhibiting a decided indebt- 
edness to Moliere, Shakespeare, Goethe, Hoffmann and Alfred de 
Musset, One critic, the representative of the Journal des Dfbatf> 
outlined an amusing sketch of these ransacked authors appearing in 



276 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

phantom form one after the other like the ghosts in Richard 111 to 
reproach Dumas. The light-fingered dramatist, however, went merrily 
on his way, rejoiced in the spectacle of Ida Ferrier in the twin roles 
of the Good Angel and Sister Martha Ida had been waiting a long 
time for a role worthy of her plump charms and turned finally from 
the problematical success of La chute d'un ange (the sub-tide of Don 
Juan de Marana) to a subject which Theaulon seems to have con- 
ceived, Kean, ou DSsordre et GSnie. Don Juan dc Marana was actually 
no more than another betrayal of Dumas's intense desire to write 
poetry and his inability to triumph in such a form. 

Kean, ou Dtsordre et Genie, produced at the Theatre des Vari&es 
on August 31, 1836, proved to be a decided success and a drama that 
was to hold the stage for many years, thanks to the mimetic skill of 
Frederic Lemaitre. It may be regarded as the last of the sequels to 
Antony, a throwback to those studies of egotism that had placed 
Dumas as an important French dramatist. This time it was a vivid 
transcript of the artistic genius, that most arbitrary of all egotisms, for 
Dumas, taking the figure of the great English actor, Edmund Kean, 
refashioned him into a peculiarly French person, a character who 
studied the effects of human passions on himself in order to represent 
them with fierce fidelity in the mimic world of the theater. Kean, 
therefore, is shown as a link between social extremes, a man carousing 
in the "Coal Hole" with such questionable old friends as John Cooks, 
le boxeur, and Ketty la blonde; and then as a reverse to this picture, 
mingling with the aristocracy, defying Lord Mewill (Dumas's English 
names were always astonishing) making passionate love to the 
Comtesse de Koeff eld and finally insulting the Prince of Wales from 
the stage of Drury Lane. This play is another example of Dumas's 
skill in dramaturgy; it proved its long vitality through Charles Coch- 
lan's adaptation of it, The Royal Box> a drama revived as recently as 
1928 in New York. Dumas seems to have been unable to place Ida 
Ferrier in Kean although he had been extolling her merits and begging 
pleasant squibs about her from the journalists. After the semi-db&cle 
of Don Juan de Marana she was to be found at the Theatre du Palais- 
Royal for a short time, where on May a6th she appeared ia Anna and 
Les Deux Frfres and on September i5th in Grain de sable. 

With the success of Kean behind him and Isabel de Bavitre just 



NOMAD 277 

issued from the press of Dumont, Dumas could afford to relax for 
the moment. The desire for a brief vacation from the whirl of Paris 
dominated him. The opportunity came in the form of an invitation 
from the young Due d'Orleans to be royalty's guest at the camp in 
Compiegne. The end of 1836 found Dumas installed in the home of 
a guardsman's widow, Madame d' Arras, at St. Corneille. Whenever 
the due desired him at the chateau he sent down an invitation. This 
cultivation of the Due d'Orleans led directly to a tentative rapproche- 
ment between Dumas and Louis-Philippe. 

One episode at Compiegne impressed itself vividly on the mind of 
the sentimental dramatist. He had accompanied the young heir on a 
hunting expedition and at its conclusion took part in a cold repast 
that was laid out on the bright grass adjoining the chateau. The Due 
begged Dumas to carve a cold pheasant that reposed before them 
but the flattered guest refused and passed the knife to Pasquier, doctor 
and surgeon to the due. Pasquier acquitted himself skillfully, and 
d'Orleans, fallen into a state of abstract melancholy, observed the 
shining knife and the dissected bird. His entourage regarded him 
questioningly. "What am I thinking?" remarked the prince as he 
roused himself. "I am thinking that in his line of duty as my doctor 
Pasquier will one day arrange me as he has that pheasant." Less than 
six years later the due, fatally injured in a carriage accident, died in 
the arms of Pasquier, and it was this celebrated doctor who performed 
the necessary autopsy on the body. 

On May 30th the Due d*Orlans espoused the Princess Helne of 
Mecklenbourg-Schwerin and on the eleventh of June the marriage 
took place, inaugurated by a grand fte in the Muse Historique of 
Versailles. Louis-Philippe celebrated the momentous occasion by 
granting several decorations and when he saw Alexandre Dumas's 
name on the list, suggested by the due, he promptly ordered it 
removed. Louis-Philippe had not recovered from his irritation at his 
former employee at the Palais-Royal and he did not intend to grant 
the cross of the Legion of Honor to him. Two incidents, however, 
caused him to change his mind. Victor Hugo's name was also on 
the list and hearing that the name of his old comrade had beea 



278 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

removed he forgot their differences long enough to announce that 
he would not appear at the fete for his decoration unless this injustice 
was repaired. Also, three days before the ceremony the good-natured 
Due d'Orleans secreted Dumas in one of the galleries at Versailles 
and when Louis-Philippe passed through, the playwright, forgetting 
his Republican ferocity, rushed forward and prostrated himself before 
the King. Louis-Philippe, half-pleased and half-irritated, leaned for- 
ward and, in imitation of Napoleon, pinched Dumas's ear and mut- 
tered, "Grown-up schoolboy!" The next day the name of Dumas was 
replaced on the honors list. 

When the crosses were presented, however, Dumas experienced the 
tortures of a humiliated man. There was a grand cross for Arago; 
Thierry and Victor Hugo received officers' crosses; Dumas was handed 
a simple chevalier's decoration. At the same time another chevalier's 
decoration was presented to some obscure person present. Dumas put 
his cross in his pocket instead of immediately hanging it at his button- 
hole. There was no reason for this exhibition of pique on his part. 
He had been away from Paris two years. His return had been sig- 
nalized by the solitary success of Kean, a drama essentially popular 
in its qualities. His Republican ranting had estranged him from the 
King. Actually he had much to be thankful for. The Parisian popu- 
lace had taken him to its inconsistent heart again and he had achieved 
a fair degree of intimacy with the Due d'Orleans. Louis-Philippe had 
tweaked his ear, suffered his presence at the royal fetes and, at the 
instigation of the due, to be sure, admitted him to the Legion of 
Honor. The tactical errors he had committed as a boastful adherent 
of the Republican cause appeared to have been forgotten. It was his 
vanity that developed his feeling of grievance against fortune. Curi- 
ously enough, this vanity seems to have been devoid of the elements 
of personal jealousy. He could witness with smiling approbation the 
heaping of honors upon others. Victor Hugo, he felt, deserved an 
officer's cross; it was the imagined neglect of himself that perturbed 
him. He showed his petulance, but his grievance did not last long. 
Before many weeks had passed he put his injured pride behind him, 
started an opira comiquc with Gerard de Nerval and adjusted himself 
again to the continued composition of Caligula. 



NOMAD 279 

VI 

The sallow-faced Buloz, who had recently been appointed commis- 
sioner of the Theatre-Fran$ais, surrendered at last to the urgent plead- 
ing and angry ultimatums of Dumas and drew up a contract for Ida 
Ferrier. He engaged her at an annual salary of four thousand francs 
for the period of one year to run from the first of October. Dumas 
was delighted. He had engineered puffs for her in the daily press, 
forced her rotund charms upon the ecstatically minded Theophile 
Gautier and otherwise pushed her forward in the semi-Bohemian life 
of his milieu. Ida does not seem to have deserved it all. She appears 
to have been tempestuous in temperament, jealous-minded and griev- 
ously limited as an actress. Her beauty was of the over-ripe variety 
perhaps a welcome contrast to the meager charms of the more famous 
Parisiennes of the day that could arouse Theophile Gautier to such 
panegyrics as: "Quc dire dcs cheveux? Us sont les plus fins et Ics plus 
abondants du mondcl DCS mains? Adorablcsl Des pieds? Minces 
etdelicatsl De la figure? Ravissantel Ducou? Blanc et renfit comme 
celui d'un cygnc! Des epaules? Divinesl De la tattle? Enfin nous y 
voilbl Mile. Ida a en luxe et en cxots ce que la moitit des fernmes de 
Paris n'a pas du tout; aussi Ics maigres de la trouver trop grasse, trap 
puissante, et de dire que Mile. Ida n'a que la t&te" And so forth and 
so on until the bewildered reader sinks beneath this flood of honey. 
Other critics muttered comments on Ida's too evident callipygous 
charms. 

Ida was to make her debut in Caligula and by late summer rehears- 
als were in progress at the Theatre-Frangais. Buloz determined to do 
his best by the play and dispensed no less than thirty-nine thousand 
francs (besides a prime of five thousand to Dumas as author) on the 
production. There were several reasons for this generosity. Caligula 
was, strange as it may seem, the first premiere of a full-length play 
by Dumas at the Theatre-Frangais since Henri 111 et sa Cour in 1829* 
Since that first triumph the national house of drama had produced 
only the one-act Le Man de la Veuve in 1832. Dumas had not forgot- 
ten the heartbreaking negotiations with the Th^atre-Fran^ais concern- 
ing Christine and Antony and the engagement of Mademoiselle 
Dorval It was necessary that the theater make a decided gesture d: 



280 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

friendliness toward him. The theater, for its own part, realized the 
need of a rapprochement, for Dumas was too famous to ignore, and 
most important of all, he could fill the spectators' seats. Every effort 
therefore was made to render Caligula a success- On October 31 
Piquillo, the operetta Dumas had written in collaboration with Gerard 
de Nerval and which had been set to music by Hippolyte Monpou, 
was presented at the Opera-Comique. Its success was slight and' 
proved but an interlude between the rehearsals of Caligula. 

Caligula was produced on December 26, 1837, at the Thedtre- 
Fran^ais with Ligier as the Emperor and the fair Ida as Stella. It 
bored a large audience from the first, and long before Masalina's 
melodramatic cry, "A moi l y empire et Vcmptreurl" Dumas Knew he 
had written another failure. He had counted heavily upon the favor- 
able reception of this tragedy which was mainly concerned with the 
conversion by a Christian maiden of her pagan lover, and he was 
bewildered by the disastrous reality. There was color and movement 
in this p&cc h dtcor and the author could hardly realize his failure. 
At the line, "]c te baptise au nom de la Trinite samtc" a voice from 
the gallery roared, "Ah, the Jesuit!" It was followed by a storm of 
hissing. Jadin, friend as ever to Dumas, dragged out one of the most 
persistent hissers and discovered from him that he was one of the 
regular claque and that he had received instructions from those actors 
of the Theatre-Franfais who were not in the production to do all he 
could to damn Caligula. Dumas, who had "squared" the leader of 
the claque an act not so much of bribery as necessity in those days- 
was furious at this treachery. For days afterward whenever a smart 
buck on the boulevards wanted to express his boredom he would say, 
"You caligulate me, my dear boy." Jokes about Ida's callipygom 
charms aroused guffaws in the cafes. The unfortunate tragedy ran 
but twenty nights at the Theatre-Francis, each time at a loss, and 
Mademoiselle Ida was cast in no more roles there, her contract being 
quietly dropped. Once again Dumas had tasted the torment of humili- 
ation in the Bastille of Racine. After the premiere he and Ida went 
home, and viewed somewhat gloomily the bronze by Barye which 
had been delivered with the cards of the Due and Duchesse d'Orf&ns. 

The cold winter winds that blew along the boulevards and lashed 



NOMAD 281 

at the steamed windows of the cafes brought more than the chill of 
the season with them. They brought the chill of death as well. The 
first months of 1838 Dumas passed in quarreling with Ida, excusing 
and vindicating Caligula, arranging two short tales, Pauline and 
Pascal Bruno, in a volume for Dumont which he called La Salic 
d'Armcs, and concocting a sequel to James Fenimore Cooper's The 
Pilot which appeared under the title of Le Capitaine Paul. Dauzats, 
the artist, had given him the idea for this last work. It was hurried 
and his heart was not in it. He was brooding over his Odyssey at 
the Theatre-Fran$ais. He was the unfortunate Odysseus steering 
vaguely upon dangerous rocks. Now and then he went to the Arsenal 
and called upon his old friend, Charles Nodier. Charles was always 
the same, kindly, sympathetic, a spiritual father who smiled at the 
vagaries of the dusky son. But even the Arsenal was not the same. 
The old group had broken up, new faces were to be seen, and Dumas 
began to feel that he was no longer a young man. He was thirty-six 
years old. He had nearly twenty plays behind him and seven works 
in prose. His son was fourteen years old, a tall boy whom he consid- 
ered removing from boarding-school. It would be pleasant to have 
Alexandre fils near him. His daughter, Marie-Alexandre, was seven 
years old and she sometimes came to stay with him although Ida 
Ferrier hated her and made it unpleasant for the child. Somewhere 
in the misty world outside of his interests were Marie-Catherine 
Lebay, Melanie Waldor, Bell Krebsamcr and even "the little DorvaL" 
They were all growing old. He felt intensely depressed as he sat at 
his desk in the rue Bleu and heard the chill winds with their prophecy 
of death rise to the hurly-burly of March blasts and sink again to the 
pleasanter breezes of April. The chestnut buds came out on the trees 
along the boulevards and the sun shone again. May melted into June 
and the bright-skirted women walked in the Tuileries Gardens as 
they had walked during the year of the cholera epidemic. July with 
the wild festivities of its Bastille Day moved toward the tonidncss 
of August and the prophecy of death was fulfilled. 

An excited messenger knocked at the doors of the house in the 
rue Bleu on the first day of August. He brought word that Madame 
Dumas had been stricken down for a second time with apoplexy, this 
time with apoplexie foudroyante. Dumas ran to the Faubotirg du 



282 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Roule and found his mother senseless. His cries seemed to pierce her 
dulled brain and she opened her eyes and appeared to recognize him. 
The distracted man seized a pen and scribbled a note to the Due 
d'Orl&ns and then sat down by his mother's bed and watched the 
ominous course of the malady. Marie Elizabeth Labouret seemed to 
be withering away before his eyes. An hour passed and he heard 
the scraping wheels of a carriage pause before the door and an instant 
later a voice saying, "De la part du prince royal" Dumas started up 
and went into the next room where he found the valet dc chambrc 
of the Due d'Orleans waiting to inquire about Madame Dumas. 
"Very badly," replied Dumas in reply to the man's question, "There 
is no hope for her." The servant hesitated and then explained that 
the Due himself was below in his carriage. Dumas hurried down the 
stairs. The door of the carriage was open, and staggering toward it 
the playwright fell with his head on the knees of the prince royal. 
"I do not know how long I remained there," Dumas wrote in his 
memorial of the due several years later. "All I know is that the night 
was beautiful and serene and that, through the pane of the opposite 
door, I saw the glittering stars of Heaven." 



CHAPTER THREE 

THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 
I 

DUMAS moved forlornly through a kbyrinth of obsessive memories 
for several days after the death of his mother* He realized that he had 
neglected her during recent years and his guilty conscience perturbM 
and aroused him to a painful self-examination. While he had paraded 
through Time and partaken of all the sensorial pleasures of existence 
he had relegated her to the dismal loneliness of her chambers. Life 
had broadened out for him as it had narrowed for her: which was, 
he realized bitterly, the law of the young and the old. Yet he had 
always possessed the comfortable feeling that she was there some- 
where just outside of his orbit, that he might turn a corner or two, 
climb a few narrow flights of stairs, open a door, and find her, quiet, 
crippled, smiling at the sunlight that poured through the window, 
and waiting with that sublime patience that is the bulwark of old 
people against despair. She would be waiting for him, of course. 
Because she had been there he had not missed her. The fact that he 
did not see her was a trivial fact. The consciousness of her existence 
was enough. But now she was no longer there and he missed her 
terribly, missed her with that agitation of mingled shame and longing 
that was a part of his inconsistent nature. Tears blinded him as he 
recalled her patient expression and her self-denials. Amaury Duval 
had completed a drawing of Madame Dumas shortly after her death, 
and Dumas, observing it on the desk before him, drew it toward him 
and inscribed beneath it these lines: 

Ohl mon Dicul dans cc mondc ou toutc bouchc nic> 
0& chacun fault aux picds Ics Tables de la Lot, 

283 



284 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Vous m'avez entendu, pendant son agonic, 
frier a deux genoux, le coeur ardent de foi. 
Vous m'avcz vu, mon Dieu, sur la junebre route 
Ou la mort me courbait devant un crucifix, 
Et vous avcz comptS les pleurs qui, goutte a goutte, 
Ruisselaient de mes yeux aux pieds de votre Fils. 
Je dcmandais, mon Dieu, quc, moms vite ravie, 
Vous retardiez V instant de mon dernier adieu; 
Pour rocketer scs jours, je vous offrais ma vie, 
Vous riavez pas voulu, soyez beni, mon Dieul 

How sorrowful it all was and how sympathetic his friends had been 
to him! Amaury Duval, Jadin, Gerard de Nerval, even Victor Hugo. 
He had written to Hugo, a trifle timidly, inviting him to assist at the 
funeral obsequies and Hugo's response had been immediate. "I would 
have wished a less sad occasion to shake your hand," wrote the Sun- 
God. "You will see tomorrow, as soon as we gaze into each other's 
face, that you were wrong ever to have doubted me. I will be at your 
house tomorrow at the hour you name. You have done well to count 
on me. It is a return of noble confidence worthy of you and worthy 
of me. Your friend, Victor." So they had stood shoulder to shoulder 
while the body, light as a child's, had been borne from the room, and 
ridden in the same coach behind the black-plumed horses. 

Durnas's sad reveries over his mother awakened memories of his 
father. How steadfastly she had stood beside that worthy man and 
comforted him as he sat wearily in the poverty-stricken rooms in 
Villers-Cotterets and gazed silently at the dusty sword on the wall! 
Mont-Cenis! The bridge of Clausen! The twisting streets of Cairo! 
He had been a hero, a dusky Hercules, le diable noir. A pride tinged 
with sadness swelled in the bosom of Dumas. All France was scat- 
tered with marble memorials to the marechaux who had fought with 
the Emperor but nowhere was there a statue of General Alexandre 
Dumas. There should be one, a lofty figure, but not in thankless and 
short-memoried France. It should be in the land of his birth, in the 
island of black men like him, in Haiti. Under the stress of emotion 
Dumas addressed an open letter to the Haitians (obviously a reply 
to a group of Haitians in France who had sent him their condolences 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 285 

on the death of Madame Dumas, and, perhaps, awakened this chain 
of thought) suggesting methods by which a subscription might be 
raised with which to commission and erect a statue in Haiti to the 
memory of General Alexandrc Dumas. The son thought that the 
subscriptions should be limited to men of color, to negroes, and that 
each one should donate no more than a franc. The project came to 
nothing but the gesture was not without its pathetic side. 

The warm days succeeded one another and Dumas's first passion 
of sorrow gradually lifted. He could not resist the appeal of the 
Parisian streets and theaters. For instance, the Bayaderes were exciting 
the public with their strange music and Oriental dances. While 
Saravana played the cymbals and lifted his mysterious eyes upward 
Tille, Amany, Soundiren and Rangoun danced, their brown bodies 
giving off a pleasant scent of musk. Jullien, the chef d'orchestre at 
the Cafe Turc, conducted his famous Valse dc Rosita and the bour- 
geoisie of the Marais whirled to it. At the Theatre-Fran^ais a dark 
young Jewess named Rachel had just made her debut in Horace. 
La Taglioni had recently been reengaged to dance at the Opera and 
Fanny Essler was delighting the critics, among them Theophile 
Gautier, with her versions of the mazurka and the cracovicnne. Along 
the boulevards passed animated crowds, the men influenced by the 
Saint-Simonians wearing their hair long and the women swaying 
beneath the First Empire turbans which had come again into fashion. 
All of this was pleasing and yet it left Dumas still restless and per- 
turbed in spirit. Finally, he decided that he would go away for a time, 
that he would forget his grief in the stranger diversions of foreign 
cities. He had but little money and in order to raise more he drama- 
tized Lc Cafitainc Paul, a few days' work, and took the script to his 
old friend, Porcher, who accepted it somewhat reluctantly as collateral 
for a loan. With the welcome cash safely stowed away Dumas made 
immediate preparations for departure. First of all, there were long 
discussions with Gerard de Nerval. Dumas had decided that it should 
be Germany this time, the blue smiling waters of the Rhine and the 
sweet sentimentalities of the blond Teutons who drank beer and read 
Goethe and adored music. Le bon Gtrard, who knew all about Ger- 
many, promised to meet Dumas there; Ida Ferrier hastily purchased 
a traveling outfit and some new gowns; Dumas secured several 



286 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

of introduction that would open important doors to him; and the 
way was clear for another auspicious departure from the city by the 
Seine. 

On August twentieth Dumas, accompanied by the fair Ida, started 
for the pleasant shores of the Rhine by way of Belgium. He went for 
three reasons. The nomadic instinct, suppressed for some time, 
asserted its dominance again. His grief over his mother's death and 
the debacle of Caligula made Paris unbearable for him. Germany, 
the land of Goethe and Schiller and Lorelei and enchanted castles 
dreaming on sunny crags, called him in the sweet voice of romance. 
It was delightful to be on the road once more, to be jouncing over 
country thoroughfares in the creaking diligence while placid towns, 
their red roofs shining, and brown-armed reapers in the hot sun 
slowly slid by. The weather was flawless and his heavy spirits lifted 
as he gazed out at the rich green of the meadows over which the 
battalions of Napoleon had once tramped, listened abstractedly to 
the pleasant chatter of Ida Ferrier whose essentially urban mind 
discovered infinite curiosities in the panoramic farmlands, and antici- 
pated with agreeable expectations the meeting with Gerard de Nerval 
who was to join him at Frankfort-on-Main. The gentle and fantastic 
spirit of de Nerval appealed to him just as his own gusty, humor- 
loving and active temperament charmed the unworldly and dreamlike 
mind of the poet. He was sk years older than le bon Gtrard, more 
experienced in the ways of the social world but far less attuned to 
those mysteries of the spirit, those maladies of the soul that were to 
force de Nerval into an insane asylum within three years. Already 
the love of the gods cast its eery light over the poet. The communion 
between the two men was unusual because they were poles apart, yet 
it was not difficult to understand. 

Brussels delighted Dumas. He engaged rooms at the Hotel de la 
Reine de Suede, ambitiously studied and made notes on the facade 
and interior of Van Ruisbroek's Hotel de Ville, gazed up at the soaring 
towers of Sainte-Gudule, stood solemnly before the recently erected 
tomb of Comte Frederic de Merode in the exquisite chapel of Notre- 
Dame de la Dlivrance, laughed at the Rabelaisian spectacle of the 
famous fountain of the Manneken-Piss, visited the palais of the Prince 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 287 

d'Orange, and wandered through the curious streets, dining in the 
tiny restaurants and discussing Belgian history with the red-faced 
natives. Garbed in his finest coat and his tallest hat he called upon 
King Leopold and was referred to the summer palace at Laeken, to 
which place he immediately traveled and was cordially received by 
the ruler. He made the usual pilgrimage to the field of Waterloo and 
meditated, as all Frenchmen do, on the reasons for God's champion- 
ship of Wellington and Bliicher, At Anvers he stood with bowed 
head before the tomb of Peter Paul Rubens and at Bruges, before the 
brown belfry in the market-place, he recalled the Foresters of Flanders, 
Lyderic du Bucq and Guy de Dampierre. Receiving an invitation 
from King Leopold he attended the Jubilee of Malines, a religious 
celebration honoring Notre Dame d'Hanswyck who had, according 
to ecclesiastical authorities, evinced her predilection for the people of 
Malines for eight hundred and fifty years. He went to Liege and 
inspected the formidable fortifications of the city that had once been 
destroyed by Charles the Bold. At Aix-la-Chapelle, the gateway to 
Teutonic lands, he held his head high in memory of Charlemagne. 
It was time to enter Germany, to sail along the blue waters of the 
Rhine, to meet Gerard de Nerval at Frankfort-on-Main. This Belgian 
tour had impressed on Dumas again the spectacular qualities and 
lifting romance of historical times. 

He arrived in Cologne at ten o'clock in the evening, tired and 
soiled with travel, and discovered that the unlucky wanderer who 
enters a hotel during the hours indues is caught like a mouse in a 
trap. The door closes behind him and he must remain captive until 
the next morning. He cannot go out again. Dumas, somewhat of 
a noctambulist, resented this for he desired to have his first glimpse 
of the great cathedral by moonlight. However, the imposing and 
unfinished bulk proved quite as astounding by day and the excited 
traveler passed many hours wandering through the aisles, watching 
the craftsmen laboring like bees within a huge hive, climbing to the 
dome and observing the surrounding streets from that inspiring 
height, and gathering the many legends that clustered about this 
Gothic temple whose corner-stone had been laid by Archbishop 
Conrad of Hostaden in 1248. The Medieval Ages seemed to blossom 
into a phantom life in Cologne. Robert of Deutz, Caesarius of Hei* 



288 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

terbach, Duns Scotus and Blessed Albertus Magnus traversed the 
winding streets again. The armed burghers marched out to the bloody 
field of Worringen and the enraged weavers rose furiously against 
the tyrannical patricians. Dumas would like to have remained longer 
in the city where Clovis had been crowned but his rendezvous with 
de Nerval drew near and he departed reluctantly from the ghosts of 
the past. He passed through Coblentz and admired the gloomy walls 
of Ehrenbreitstein and eventually reached Frankfort-on-Main. There 
was no fantastic Gerard there. However, there was the famous 
Pfarrturm of the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew to admire, the 
Liebfrauenkirche, and the Church of the Teutonic Knights. Through 
the streets patrolled the Prusso-Austrian troops who had been there 
since the riot of 1833. The populace had heard of the great Dumas 
and the noble families of the city were assiduous in paying attentions 
to him. Dumas, with Ida Ferrier on his arm, passed gaily through 
the social functions and made majestic appearances at the theater. 
He squandered money (the cash he had borrowed from Porcher), 
exhibited Ida in costly and startling costumes, ate enormously, and, 
incidentally, paid his respects to the house where Goethe had written 
a portion of Wcrther, After some weeks news came from Gerard 
de Nerval. He was stranded in Strasbourg with a single franc. Le bon 
Gerard, after all, was a true poet. 

Money was hastily forwarded, and, after some days, Gerard de 
Nerval turned up in Frankfort-on-Main, none the worse for his penni- 
less predicament He greeted Dumas with a sweet smile, kissed the 
white hand of Ida Ferrier, and began his rambles about the city. 
There were discussions as to the possibilities of collaborating on one 
or more plays, and, because of de Nerval's intimate knowledge of 
German life, letters, and history, both men decided to limit their 
efforts to a Teutonic theme. A drama based on Karl-Ludwig Sand's 
sensational murder of Kotzebue in 1819 appealed particularly to 
Dumas and he insisted on visiting the scene of the assassination at 
Mannheim, talking with the executfimer, gazing upon the fatal sword, 
and collecting material about the excited students who dipped their 
handkerchiefs in Sand's blood after the mad idealist's head had been 
dissevered. What Gerard dc Nerval thought of this gory subject is 
a mystery. Most of the time his mind was probably far away dans la 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 289 

grotte ou nagc la sirtne. So discussing possible themes, exhausting 
them, and creating others the two curious friends, one all earth and 
gusto and the other all air and witch-fire, passed through Heidelberg, 
Carlsruhe and Baden-Baden. With them went the fair Ida. In the 
terrain of the Grand Duke Leopold, Dumas received unexpected and 
irritating news. Porcher, doubtless aware that his loan would never 
be repaid, had sold the script of Paul Jones, the drama Dumas had 
hastily concocted from Le Capitaine Paul, to an obscure theater called 
the Pantheon and there on October twelfth the play had been pro- 
duced and had failed. Dumas was enraged. The Theatre du Pan- 
theon, indeed! An old church turned into a hall of entertainment 
where they offered such fare as Dennery and Granger's Lcs Peiits 
Souliers, ou la Prison de Saint-Crepin and Paul de Kock's Le Pompier 
et l'1-Lcaillerel It was plain enough how this had happened. Theodore 
Nezel, the director of this obscure theater, was the nephew of Porcher. 
There was nothing to be done except to rush back to Paris before the 
last tags of his prestige had been torn from him by over-zealous 
creditors, friends and enemies; so Dumas interrupted his leisurely 
peregrination of the Duchy of Baden, postponed his playwriting 
projects with Gerard de Nerval, saw to it that Ida's bags and trunks 
were packed, and turned his anxious face toward the city that delighted 
and depressed him. It was autumn when he reached the boulevards 
again and this time he settled in the rue de Rivoli, at twenty-two. 
He cast up his debts and found them appalling. How could they 
swell as such a rate? There was something miraculous about it. 
Blithely, however, he settled down to work. The ravens of his own 
ingenuity must be made to provide for him, and, as they were indus- 
trious birds, he had no particular fear for the future. 

The intensity with which Dumas labored when it became a struggle 
for bread and cheese (or rather, in his case, rich sauces and fancy 
ices) continued unabated through the winter of 1838 and far into the 
spring of 1839. Anything that turned up became grist for his indus- 
trious mill. Creative inspirations, newspaper squibs, plays, transla- 
tions and novels issued pell-mell from the quarters in the rue de 
Rivoli where the unwearying pen squeaked ceaselessly. Ida yawned 
and wandered helplessly about the rooms but the bushy head bf 
Dumas did not rise from the desk until the determined stint had been 



290 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

accomplished. Such sustained assiduity was not without its reward 
and the exceedingly flat wallet of Dumas began to swell perceptibly. 
Destiny sometimes manifests itself in strange ways. Two occur- 
rences, slight in themselves, became straws of fate showing which 
way the winds of fortune were blowing for the author. In Acte he 
wrote his first historical romance, for Isabel de Baviere had been only 
a compilation. And Gerard de Nerval had brought to him a play 
by a young man named Auguste Maquet. Maquet was a scholarly 
youth, born on December 13, 1813, * m Paris- He had studied at the 
College de Charlemagne, taught there for a brief period and then, 
failing to achieve a professor's appointment about 1835, had turned to 
literature* In 1830 he had been one of the young men who had 
roared the loudest at the premiere of Victor Hugo's Hernani. At that 
time he was known as MacKeat and for some time after he had pub- 
lished verses under that anglicised name. Gerard de Nerval had 
found a kindred spirit in him and the two men had become close 
friends and collaborators. During 1837 Maquet had composed a drama 
called Un Soir de Carnavd which Gerard had read and decided 
because of its flaws to take to Dumas, who, after all, was a supreme 
technician. Dumas arranged Un Soir de Carnavd into actable form, 
renamed it Bathildc, placed it for production at the Theatre de la 
Renaissance (Salle Ventadour) with the proviso that Ida Ferrier enact 
the principal role, and generously suppressed his own name as a col- 
laborator. Bathilde had its premiere on January 14, 1839, *&& scored 
a fair success, to the great delight of Maquet who saw his name on 
placards for the first time. Intoxicated with dreams of future glory 
he betook his tall figure and mousquetaire moustaches to the Biblio- 
thque and started to extract material from that rich source for a 
romance on the conspiracy of Cellamare. The extraordinarily pic- 
turesque qualities of French history appealed to him, too. 

April brought no less than three premieres at three different 
theaters. Not one of the plays had been composed by Dumas alone, 
but in each case he had been the dominating factor. On the second 
of the month Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle, written from an idea sub- 
mitted him by Brunswick, was produced at the Th^atre-Fran^ais 
with no less a star than Mademoiselle Mars (she was sixty years olid) ; 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 291 

on the tenth L'Alchimiste, a drama written in collaboration with 
Gerard de Nerval and plainly inspired by Milman's Fazio, was pre- 
sented at the Theatre de la Renaissance with Ida Ferrier sharing the 
honors with Frederic Lemaitre; and on the sixteenth Leo Burcfart, 
a second collaboration with Gerard de Nerval, was ushered into life 
at the Porte-Saint-Martin theater. It was a full month but its para- 
mount importance was due to Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle. This play, 
a volte-face in relation to his previous dramatic endeavors, established 
Dumas as a distinguished author of comedy, and it still holds its 
place in the repertoire of the Theatre-Fran^ais. Dumas had recited 
it there had not been time to write it out to the committee of the 
national theater and they had accepted it unanimously. This sparkling 
comedy of intrigue in an artificial milieu of aristocratic sophistication 
is one of the landmarks of French drama. The double-motived plot 
is concerned with (i) the wager of the Due de Richelieu that he will 
secure a compromising assignation with the first woman he meets, 
and (2) Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle's attempt with the aid of the 
Marquis de Prie to rescue her father and brother from the Bastille; 
and it moves with a surprising grace and agility, the romantic ele- 
ments of which Dumas was so much a master being woven into a 
complicated pattern which scintillates with witty dialogue and unex- 
pected situations. The shade of Beaumarchais must have smiled at 
this drama. 

The success of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle changed the complexion 
of things for Dumas. The Theatre-Frangais granted the author a 
prime of five thousand francs beyond his royalties. Queen Christine 
of Spain, to whom for some unexplained reason Dumas had sent the 
original manuscript of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle, responded with the 
cordon of a Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic. As 
usual with him, he began to lessen his labors and strut forth once 
more along the boulevards where he was eyed admiringly by the 
younger men and lighter women. He patronized the best cafs; he 
made his appearance at beds with Ida Ferrier (and sometimes other 
women) clinging to his arm. He bought bric-a-brac and jewels, and 
loaned money to his penniless friends with majestic recklessness. His 
vanity suggested still greater triumphs and he began to cast an envious 
eye toward the Academy. To Buloz he wrote: "Mention me, theft, 



292 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

in the Revue for the Academy and ask yourself how it is that I am 
not there when A ... (Ancelot?) is a candidate." He announced 
to his friends that he had written Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle with a 
packet of pens that had been sent to him by the Due d'Orleans when 
that prince royal had married. Friends laughed and friends admired. 
Friends also began to murmur about the plump Ida, her extrava- 
gances, her mannerisms and her shameless bids for publicity. Dumas 
did not hear or ignored these remarks and continued to parade her 
about Paris while the dandified Roger de Beauvoir, an old acquaint- 
ance and friend of the playwright, curled his moustache contempla- 
tively and observed Ida's callipygous grace sway by. 

Dumas conducted his inamorata to one bal too many, however. One 
evening he presented himself at an affair given by the Due d'Orleans 
and, either ignorant of or dismissing any question of etiquette, ven- 
tured to present her to his patron. The Due d'Orleans was an amiable 
young man who had been amused often enough by the divagations 
of Dumas but this was too much. It was also too public. "It is quite 
understood," he remarked rather icily to the astonished playwright, 
"that you could present to me only your wife." Dumas, who had 
understood nothing of the sort, returned to the rue de Rivoli in a 
contemplative mood. The due's intimation was tantamount to a 
command, which, if disobeyed, would certainly mean the loss of a 
valuable friend and the cessation of important patronage. Dumas 
gazed attentively at Ida, who, divested of her elaborate ball-gown, 
was moving like some full-breasted swan about the room. Well, why 
not? He had lived with her for seven years. On the whole, he had 
adjusted himself to her admirably. It was true that she displayed 
jealousy occasionally and that she was rather selfish in her demands; 
but then, all women were like that. Jealousy was the ultimate com- 
pliment from a woman to a man and selfishness was a congenital 
feminine trait. Besides, she was better-looking than most women. 
Her rotundity might be a trifle pronounced but there was something 
attractively Oriental about it; she was not like the meager desmoiselles 
of Paris who gloried in an exceeding slimness that was positively 
unhealthy. No wonder Theophile Gautier rose to lyric raptures when 
he enumerated her charms. No wonder Roger de Beauvoir curled 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 293 

his moustaches a trifle agitatedly when she entered the room. Then 
there was the old Duchesse d'Abrantes, now dead, who had approved 
of Ida and suggested time and again that he should marry, have 
legitimate children, and establish a settled household. That was an 
argument for the marriage for the Duchesse had possessed many 
lovers and knew whereof she spoke. The time came when the blood 
flowed slower and the twilight of pantouftes darkened the ultimate 
horizon. Dumas began seriously to consider this problem of marriage 
as the summer merged into the autumn and the autumn faded into 
the whiteness of winter. At the Gaite they produced Les Chevaux du 
Carrousel, ou le Dernier jour de Venue, a play introducing Napoleon, 
by Paul Foucher, Victor Hugo's brother-in-law, and Alboize; but 
this did not divert Dumas from his matrimonial meditations. Virginie 
Dejazet pleased Paris at the Theatre du Palais-Royal as Richelieu in 
Les Premises armes de Richelieu toward the beginning of December; 
still Dumas considered Ida and the possibilities of a legalized menage 
with her. He thought about it as he hastily flung together the pages 
that made up his contributions to Les Crimes Celebres. The Due 
d'Orleans had put him in a fine position, indeed. Alexandre fils, now 
fifteen years old, made a noisy appearance in the rue de Rivoli but 
if Dumas entertained any thoughts about Marie-Catherine Lebay he 
kept them to himself. He still hesitated to make this extraordinary 
gesture of marriage. Could he, by any manner of ratiocination, con- 
vince himself that he was adapted to the role of a husband? Then, 
quite unexpectedly, a convincing argument crushed all his doubts. 
Ida's guardian bought up his old debts and threatened to use them 
as a weapon to protect the honprable future of Mademoiselle Ferrier. 
That settled it; he would get married, then. He would get married 
in the Chapel of the Chamber of Peers and he would have famous 
men surrounding him as he ceased to be a free man. 

The ceremony took place on February 5, 1840, in the Chapel of the 
Chamber of Peers, as Dumas had planned. Ida Ferrier appeared 
elaborately gowned and coiffed, and Dumas, a trifle plumper than 
the Dumas who had ventured upon Paris seventeen years before, 
strode importantly to the altar accompanied by his famous witnesses* 
They were Chateaubriand, old and slyly smiling; Villemain, some- 
what puzzled and out of place; Charles Nodier, a trifle ironical in 



294 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

his bearing; and Roger de Beauvoir, faultlessly clad and perfumed* 
Several young comtes dressed the background The sacred words 
were spoken and Chateaubriand advanced slowly to bless the pre- 
sumably blushing bride. As he lifted his thin hands he noticed that 
she had dcs chases considerables a mettre dans son corset. The old 
author of the Genie du Christianisme thought of the fallen kings he 
had blessed and turning to Roger de Beauvoir muttered: "You see, 
my destiny does not change. Even at this moment all that I bless 
falls." Roger de Beauvoir curled his moustache and smiled. 

There was a short interim between the marriage of Dumas and his 
hegira to Florence. One day he met Prosper Merimee on the boule- 
vard and the meticulous disciple of Stendhal and author of the chroni- 
cle of the reign of Charles IX asked Dumas why he was not busy on 
another comedy of the genre of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle for the 
Theatre-Fran^ais. "Because I have not been asked," replied the new 
benedict proudly. Merimee walked away smiling, for he, like most 
of the more serious writers in Paris, enjoyed the expansive boyishness 
and naive vanities of Dumas. A few days later Dumas received a 
formal order for a new comedy from M. de Remusat, the French 
Minister for the Interior. The wit of the new husband continued 
to delight Paris and furnish numerous squibs for the journalists. One 
evening he appeared at M, d'Argout's home for dinner festooned 
with several decorations, among them the ribbon of a certain order 
of which he had recently been created commander. M. Chaix d'Est- 
Ange, the lawyer, who was present, remarked enviously: "My dear 
Dumas, that ribbon is of a villainous color. One would think that 
it was your woolen vest peeping out." "Not at all," replied the 
playwright. "It is the same green as that of the grapes in the fable." 
Another time, Adolphe Dumas, a minorr dramatist whose Camp des 
Croises had been produced at the Theatre-Frangais, met the author 
of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle in the foyer and ran up to him ejacu- 
lating: "It will soon be said 'the two Dumas' as they now; say 'the two 
Corneille.'" "Good-evening, Thomas," responded Dumas. Thomas 
was the decidedly lesser-known brother of the great Pierre Corneille. 
It was during this short period of de Bergerac-like swaggering that 
Villemessant, the founder of Figaro, first described the appearance 




CHATEAUBRIAND 

The old father of Romanticism was a witness at the 
wedding of Dumas 




ETIENNE MELINGUE 
As the Angel of Evil in Don Juan de Marana 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 295 

of Dumas. A concert was arranged at Herz's Hall for the benefit of 
Sylphidc, the journal conducted by Villemessant at that time, and it 
was rumored that Alexandre Dumas was to make an appearance. 
Scores of expectant eyes were turned toward the door instead of the 
platform where the industrious musicians scraped away and a murmur 
of pleasure interrupted the melody when the quadroon dramatist 
entered the hall. The audience stood up to view him better and 
Dumas passed slowly down the aisle as though he had been a king 
at his own levtc, shaking hands indiscriminately, nodding majesti- 
cally, and greeting people he had never seen before. Villemessant 
described him as tall and the finished type of cavalier, the negroid 
heaviness of his features lightened by sparkling blue eyes, his solid 
shoulders and sturdy stature suggesting one of the Russian Life 
Guards. "He displayed in his person the perfection of many races," 
noted the journalist, "the impetuosity of the blood of Africa had been 
toned down by the elegance of European culture." It is instructive 
to bear this friendly portrait in mind in view of what the malevolent 
Jacquot was to write five years later. 

About this time Auguste Maquet reappeared from his long immer- 
sion in dusty historical tomes. Dumas met him one day on the boule- 
vards and accosted him heartily, asking the timid and scholarly 
minded fellow if he had any little thing up his sleeve that might be 
worked into a play or a book. "I want to make a role for Rouffe at 
the Gymnase," Maquet admitted that he possessed a manuscript, the 
result of his delving into the historical complexities of the conspiracy 
of Cellamare, which he called Bonhommc Buvat. He would gladly 
surrender it to Dumas for he had striven in vain to place it in various 
publications. If Dumas would . . . The young man (he was but 
twenty-seven) stood on one foot and then on the other. Of course 
Dumas would ... He requested Maquet to send the manuscript to 
his house. To know Auguste Maquet at this time predicates the 
understanding that he was primarily a journeyman scribbler, that he 
was an exceedingly shy youth with a wholesome respect for the 
dominance of Dumas's personality and ability, and, that while he was 
ambitious, he was wisely so. He was content at this period to remain 
a secondary figure, to achieve an adequate subsistence by the modest 
path of journalism an<J hack-writing. He had been willing to collabo- 



29 6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

rate with Gerard de Nerval and see his own name suppressed. He 
was equally willing to collaborate with Dumas on the same conditions. 
There is a neat little problem here that appears to be not so much the 
result of an inferiority complex as an intelligent understanding 
that his prime function, at least for the present, was that of assistant, 
that he knew his limitations and understood that he was primarily 
a research-worker and not a creator. There is no reason to believe 
that he did not welcome the long noviciate of collaboration with 
Dumas that started so auspiciously in 1840. He could afford to wait 
and profit by the literary comradeship of the stronger nature. After 
that noviciate he had imbibed so much of the technique and gusto 
of the older man that he could stand on his own legs but rather 
tremblingly and a slowly awakened self-pride and vanity did the 
rest. But this Auguste Maquet of the later years had been created by 
Alexandre Dumas. In the early 1840$ such an independence wa$ very 
far from him although he did publish two books of his own. His 
measure may be taken from Le Beau d'Augennes (1843) and Les Deux 
Trahisons (1844). Even in these works he probably had the benefit 
of consultations with Dumas. Excepting these two independent ven- 
tures the literary life of Maquet from 1840 to the publication of 
La Belle Gabrielle in 1853 was one of partnership with stronger 
natures, with Dumas in the sixteen romances, with Arnould and 
Alboize in the Histoire de la Bastille (1844), with Alboize in Les 
Prisons de I'Europe (1844-46), and with Jules Lacroix in the play 
called Valeria (1851). 

Florence continued to call Dumas in the most tantalizing manner 
and by June he had written to a friend explaining that his future 
address would be that Italian city. A few weeks later he was settled 
with Ida in the via Arondinelli, his habitation being rented to him 
by an English acquaintance named Cooper who was attached to the 
British Embassy. It was delightful in Florence. The sun shone 
steadily; Ida had not yet taken her wedded state too much for granted; 
the macaronis were drowned in the most delectable sauces; a few 
friends raised the supper parties to amusing symposiums; the days 
were long and beautifully adapted to writing. After his period of 
swaggering through the boulevards of Paris, Dumas recognized the 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 297 

necessity of intensive and swift writing and settled himself to it with 
that sustained application that he could command always when need 
was his driver. First of all, there was the play to be written for the 
Theatre-Francis and he started at once on Un Manage sous Louis XV, 
another comedy on the order of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle. It is 
possible that he received suggestions for this drama from his old 
friend, Adolphe de Leuven, who now held a modest place among 
the minor dramatists of Paris, and Lherie (Brunswick), who had 
brought him the beginning of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle. Then there 
was a mass of manuscript that Grisier, his old fencing master, had 
turned over to him. It was a jumbled account of Grisier's recent tour 
of Russia and imbedded in it was a charming love-story which Dumas, 
with his eye for effect, extracted, played up, and made the most 
engrossing part of Le Maitre d'Armes. By far the most important 
literary production of this busy period, however, was the rewriting 
and extension of Auguste Maquet's modestly surrendered Bonhomme 
Buvat, which flowered beneath the pen of Dumas into four absorbing 
volumes and appeared eventually in Le S&cle under the familiar title 
of Le Chevalier d'Harmentd. This romance is exceptionally impor- 
tant as a land-mark in the career of Dumas for in it for the first time 
and completely may be found all those qualities that bulwark the 
fame of the novelist today. It was the open door into those vast fields 
of French historical romance wherein Dumas was to browse so 
delightedly for the next ten years. Maquet possessed the key, his 
research ability and eye for material; with that key the portal to the 
great future of Dumas was swung open. 

All this activity (and no adjective fits it except furious) reveals one 
important fact, the evident shift of Dumas* interest from the stage 
to the printed book. He who had been a playwright up to his thirty- 
sixth year, who had passed the formative years of his life in concocting 
dramas of all sorts, comedies, tragedies, verse-plays, vaudevilles, comic 
operas, and melodramas, was now reaching out toward a more ambi- 
tious field of endeavor. The Time-Spirit was urging him to it. The 
great plains of fiction, plains dotted with the historical debris of the 
past, stretched before him fair and inviting and he rushed into them 
like a gusty bandit taking what he desired, calmly "lifting" material 
if it suited his purpose, polishing, cutting, making "readable.*' He 



298 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

was a vulgarisateur he said it himself years later and he gloried in 
this function that was to make him the delight of countless millions 
of common people all over the world. Though he might regret that 
he was not a penseur like Victor Hugo or a rcveur like Lamartine he 
still possessed an indisputable genius, the astounding ability to create 
live figures that continued to live in the minds of his readers through 
the most vivid and unforgettable adventures. He possessed a quality 
that Mr. George Saintsbury called Dutnasity. He was unconstrainedly 
natural and primitively emotional and blessed with a constantly 
agreeable wit and the delectable insouciance of the born raconteur. 
Already these traits revealed themselves in his prose, in the excellently 
conceived historical novel, Acte, in the sparkling pages of Lc 
Capitaine Pamphile, above all, in the first maturity of Lc Chcvdier 
d'Harmentd. Captain Roquefinette was the first of a long line of 
swashbuckling heroes. The master feuilletoniste was budding rapidly 
and the period of bourgeoning was but two or three years away. 
Back in Paris Auguste Maquet, ignoring the excitement over Hector 
Berlioz's concert at the Salle Vivienne and the production of George 
Sand's Cosima at the Theatre-Fran^ais, was already at work on 
another historical romance to be called Sylvandirc, which would give 
a glimpse of the court of Louis XIV in his later days, under the 
domination of Madame de Maintenon. He would turn the first rough 
draft of this work over to his great new friend. At the same time 
the canny editors of the more important periodicals began to take 
notice of the increasing interest displayed by the public in serialized 
stories. 

Spurred toward the capital by sentimental loyalties and the usual 
impending squabble with the Theatre-Frangais, Dumas appeared in 
Paris in season to pay his New Year's devoirs to the Due d'Orleans. 
The writer had apparently forgiven the prince for forcing him into 
marriage. The prince received him graciously and even sent for his 
young son, the tiny Comte de Paris, and presented the ebullient writer 
to the child. Dumas kissed the infinitesimal fingers of the illustrious 
heir, who, for his part, found the novelist more amusing than a danc- 
ing bear. Either in emulation of the fair Ida or because of the rich 
polentas a&d succulent tj&woms of Florence, Dumas was rapidly 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 299 

losing his tall athletic figure and achieving a suspicious rotundity. 
"Make a wish for my son," suggested the due and Dumas solemnly 
volunteered, "May it be a long time before he becomes a king." "You 
are right," returned the due. "It is a villainous calling*" "It is not 
because of that that I have made this wish," explained Dumas. "It is 
because he cannot become king until after the death of Your High- 
ness," "Oh, I can die now," answered the due sombrely. "With the 
mother that he possesses he will be raised as though I were here." 
Then, extending his hand towards the quarters of the Duchesse 
d'Orleans, he said, "It is a quinc (five winning numbers) that I gained 
in the lottery,'* There were a few more words, principally about a 
history of the famous French regiments that the due had commis- 
sioned Dumas to write, and the author took his departure convinced 
that the meditative Due d'Orleans was more Hamlet-like than even 
During this same January of 1841 Dumas made another attempt 
for a jauteuil in the Academy. Victor Hugo had been elected on the 
seventh of the month to the chair left vacant by the death of the 
ancient enemy of Romanticism, Nepomucene Lemercier, and this had 
quickened the ambitions of Dumas. He had once prophesied that 
Hugo would succeed Lemercier in the Academy. To Charles Nodier 
he wrote, "Do you think at this time I would have any chance for 
the Academy? Hugo has succeeded. All his friends are mine, also. 
Think of this at your next meeting and sound out Casimir Delavigne, 
who takes some interest in me . . ." Nodier lifted his quizzical eyes, 
smiled at the wall, and, presumably, did what he could. There was 
a decided prejudice against the admission of Dumas to the Academy, 
a prejudice based, apparently, on two things, the fact that Dumas, 
for the most part, lived his private life in public and the fact that his 
plays, dealing so often with frank and melodramatic subjects, revolted 
the conservative and dominating faction of the Forty Immortals* 
Dumas might have understood the difficulties before him if he had 
not been blinded by his vanity. As it was, he went ahead regardless 
of the laughter and ridicule he aroused among the more "literary" 
celebrities. What if Balzac had called him "that negro"; he had scored 
off the author of the Comedie Humaine many times; and Balzac, 
like himself, was an outsider from the Academy. In the meantime 
Dumas consoled himself by out-tricking his antagonists. The Theatre- 



300 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Franais, for instance, had scornfully rejected his Un Manage sous 
Louis XV and just as the dramatist's enemies were chuckling with 
triumphant joy he produced the letter from M. de Remusat ordering 
the play. The laughter stopped abruptly and the play was accepted. 
After all, what did a fauteuil in the Academy matter beside these 
practical triumphs ? The Academy was the graveyard of mummified 
genius. All the same . . . Dumas suppressed his lacerated vanity 
and strove to think of other things. 

His laughter echoed through the salons and cafes of Paris inter- 
mittently, for Dumas came and went with surprising irregularity. At 
Madame de Girardin's home he would arrive breathlessly and explain 
that he had merely dropped in for conversation. "From where?" 
"Why, Florence, to be sure." With an excellent chat in prospect it 
was not too much exertion for him to make the long uncomfortable 
journey. Sociability was a necessity and he deplored the gradual ces- 
sation of after-theater supper-parties and their animated conversation. 
There was so much to talk about. The Theatre-Fran^ais, for instance. 
This year had marked the retirements of Mademoiselle Mars, Joanny, 
and Saint-Aulaire. Mars had taken it so nobly. Dry-eyed she had sat 
in her box and remarked to the zealous admirers who were sorrowing 
over her loss, "Ceci, mes infants, peut bien passer pour un entcrrement 
de premiere classed A young actress named Augustine Brohan had 
just made her debut in soubrette roles. Rachel was detested by the 
other players at the Theatre-Franf ais and a rival named Mile. Maxime 
had been opposed to her. L'lnvindble, however, still held her own. 
The Theatre du Renaissance, which had opened its doors with Victor 
Hugo's Ruy Bias, closed them forever on May twenty-third. Those 
amusing dwarfs, Caroline and Carlo Laponne, were to be seen at 
the Theatre-Saqui. A gentleman named Leon Fillet had retired from 
the directorship of the Opera, abandoning his powers to Duponchel 
who shared them with Nestor Roqueplan. Fillet had been the young 
man in the astonishing uniform whom Dumas had seen when he hur- 
ried from the presence of the Marquis de Lafayette in 1830 to prepare 
for his tour of La Vendee. Balzac still thought he could write plays. 
What . . . after Vautrin ? Subjects were endless. Dumas deplored, 
too, the rapidly-spreading custom of smoking, complaining that it 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 301 

tainted the air, dulled the palate for fine sauces and subtly-flavored 
foods, and produced a phlegmatic mood in men* His own mouth 
appears to have never been closed long enough to support a pipe. 
His love of fantastic costumes persisted, and, though he was swelling 
to astonishing proportions (the lithe and melancholy gallant who 
wrote Henri III et sa Cour and who coughed gently into a fine 
cambric handkerchief was but a dream of the past), he continued 
to play the incroyable of his day. Women complicated his already 
complicated life and any thoughts of fidelity to the fair Ida that he 
may have conceived in the Chapel of the Chamber of Peers were 
dispersed upon the sparkling air of Paris. It was natural that he 
should become fair game for the newspapers. Alphonse Karr in Les 
Guepes and half a dozen other editors found a rich mine from which 
to extract nuggets to adorn their sheets in the bubbling wit, childish 
vanity and inconsistent gestures of Dumas. 

On June I, 1841, Un Manage sous Louis XV was produced at the 
Theatre-Fran^ais with a capable cast including Mademoiselle Plessy, 
Menjaud, and Dumas's old friend, Firmin. It scored an instantaneous 
success and within a year had been presented forty-nine times, an 
excellent record for a repertory house. The plot was thin (it is con- 
cerned with the manage de convenance between the Comte de Can- 
dale and Mademoiselle de Torigny and the amusing steps by which 
they progress from mutual aversion through indifference and jealousy 
to affection) but its motivation was sufficient to afford Dumas the 
opportunity to create scene after scene of smart dialogue. Oscar Wilde 
could not have done better. In this play (as in Mademoiselle de Belle- 
Isle before it and Les Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr which was to follow 
it) Dumas revealed his complete command of glittering dialogue, 
an ability that was to add so much to the lasting charm of the his- 
torical romances. He had achieved his formula if so dancing a prose 
quality may be called a formula and he was quite ready to venture 
upon those numerous scenes of court-life and intrigue under the 
debonair kings of France. It is quite true that viewed from the 
narrow attitude of the French purist, the Academically-minded critic 
immersed in the classical tradition of Gallic letters, he possessed no 
style. And yet his quality is intensely recognizable. It is simple 
enough to identify the touch of Dumas in his typical work even 



302 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

though that work be shared with one or more collaborators. He 
dominated his material with an unmistakable gusto. 

With Un Manage sous Louis XV safely launched to the plaudits 
of the Parisian public it would seem as though it were time for Dumas 
to rest, to retire for a season and admire his own laurels; but he was 
incapable of rest. Standing still would be sure to tire him out. There 
were flying trips to be made between Florence and Paris, a jovial 
greeting to Ida in Italy and a boisterous conversation with Theophile 
Gautier in France. There were books, always books, to turn over to 
importunate publishers. He seemed to shake them from his massive 
form. It was during this arduous year that Alexandre fils, now 
seventeen years old, went to live with his father. Dumas ptre, fling- 
ing himself upon project after project that he might pour more gold 
into that coffer of his (which appears to have been without any 
bottom), paused long enough to embrace the lad, lead him to a few 
salons and show him off, and induct him into the extravagances of 
his own amoral life. Alexandre fils, who had left the College Chaptal 
without securing his baccalaureate, viewed his undisciplined father 
with dismay and affection and instinctively felt that he, the son, was 
the elder of the two. Dumas laughed and continued on his hurried 
way. There was barely time to confound Balzac at a soiree; just a 
minute to secure Alfred de Musset's Spectacle dans un fauteuil from 
which he planned to make a play; only a second in which to spend 
the last of his francs on new gowns for Ida; then, off to Florence 
again where the sun was warm and the ravioli was delectable. 

Ill 

Before returning to the Italian city in 1842, Dumas, mindful that 
he was now in his fortieth year, made another attempt to storm the 
impregnable bastions of the French Academy. To his old friend, 
Baron Taylor, he wrote: "Don't forget about the Academy: stir up 
Nodier, Barante, and Mol: they arc, I imagine, the three persons 
you can influence most. If my presence is desirable, one word from 
you will bring me back.'* As usual, nothing came of this plea and 
the rather disgruntled author, as he arrived in Florence, muttered to 
Ida: "I asked to be the fortieth but it appears they desire to make? 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 303 

me do quarantine. (Jc dcmandc h fare Ic quctrant&mc, mats il farmt 
qtt'on vcut me jcurc jairc quarantaine.)" The play on words probably 
cheered him up. He immersed himself in the social life of the French 
colony in Florence and forgot the callous indifferences of Paris. To 
call upon one's friends and gossip animatedly, to dine well at tables 
where the service was a liturgy, to write assiduously beside an open 
window from whence one could see the kaleidoscopic life of the 
streets and the lazy Italians dawdling in the shadows, to travel, these 
were the joys that mattered. Among the more important houses open 
to Dumas was that of Prince Jerome Bonaparte, the Villa Quarto 
near Florence, and to this hospitable mansion Dumas repaired soon 
after his arrival in Italy in 1842. Prince Jerome was worried. His 
son, the young Napoleon later to be the well-known "Plon-Plon" of 
the Second Empire had quitted the service of Wurtembourg and was 
returning to Florence. There were political reasons for his retire- 
ment. France was slyly threatened by an imminent coalition of 
powers because of the Egyptian situation and Prince Jerome did 
not want his son exposed to possible service against Louis-Philippe. 
"When he comes/' remarked the prince to Dumas, "I will turn him 
over to you." Dumas was dubious. What could he do with a prince ? 
It might be very like having a white elephant on one's hands. "What 
good can I do him?" he asked in a faintly-surprised voice. "Teach 
him about France, which he doesn't know," suggested Prince Jerome, 
"and take him for some trips through Italy if you have the time." 
Dumas was seized by an inspiration. "Has he seen Elba?" he in- 
quired. Prince J6rome shook his head. "Very well," concluded 
Dumas. "I will take him to the island of Elba, if that is agreeable 
to you. It is fitting that the nephew of the Emperor should terminate 
his studies by an historical pilgrimage." Some time later when the 
young Napoleon arrived in Florence this proposed excursion was 
put into execution. Dumas and his royal charge, each of them with 
a thousand francs generously supplied by Prince J6rome in his pocket, 
set sail from Livorno for Porto-Fcrrajo in a small barque called, curi- 
ously enough, Lc Due de Rcichstadt. A storm came up and the small 
vessel was tossed furiously on the waves of the Mediterranean, much 
to the discomfort of Dumas who began to worry about possible fatal- 
ities. Suppose the young prince were drowned? The young prince 



304 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

did not worry at all because he was too occupied: he was dreadfully 
sea-sick. Elba was reached safely, however, and Dumas hustled his 
royal charge ashore with a sigh of relief. The tour of the island was 
accomplished in excellent style. The prince saw where his unfortu- 
nate uncle lived from May, 1814, to February, 1815. He admired the 
treeless mountain ranges and the peak of Monte Capanne. He talked 
to the natives of Porto Ferrajo, Orte Rio, and Porto Longone. Then, 
the historical pilgrimage completed, Dumas decided that he would 
enjoy some hunting. A day was passed on the neighboring island of 
Pianosa in shooting at rabbits, silly little animals that did not possess 
enough sense to hide themselves. It was while Dumas and Prince 
Napoleon were engaged in this agreeable occupation that the older 
man, always observant, noticed a sugar-loaf-shaped rock that thrust 
out of the blue sea at some distance from the shore. The guide fol- 
lowed his glance and remarked: "Excellency, if you went over there 
you would find splendid hunting." "What is there?" inquired Dumas. 
"The island is overrun with wild goats," explained the guide. "Other- 
wise it is deserted." "And the name of the island?" "They call it 
the Isle-de-Monte-Cristo." The name struck the fancy of Dumas and 
he gazed inquiringly at the young prince who had just knocked over 
another rabbit. "Tomorrow we shall go there and shoot goats," prom- 
ised the youthful Bonaparte. Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo. There 
was something tantalizing and suggestive about the name. It did 
not sound like the other little islands around Elba, Pianosa, Capraja, 
Palmaola. The next day Dumas and his royal protege were rowed 
out to the mysterious island where, it was reported, there were the 
ruins of a once-famous monastry called San Mamiliani, but before 
they disembarked one of the brownskinned Tuscan oarsmen warned 
them that the island was deserted, that it was en contumace, and that 
anyone landing there would be liable to quarantine for five or six 
days upon arriving at any port. Quarantine. Quaranttime. Dumas 
had almost forgotten those confounded words. He explained to the 
prince that he possessed a horror of quarantine, and that, to speak 
truly, he had no passion for wild goats. It was decided merely to 
row around the island and establish its geographical position and 
general shape and then return to the stupid rabbits on Pianosa, 
The circuit of the gloomy rock was made and Dumas viewed with 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 305 

curiosity the savage scenery, the clefts in gigantic stone, the strange 
silence unbroken save for the distant bleat of a startled goat There 
might very well be a deep and securely hidden cave among those 
rocks secure from the prying eyes of men and the feet of ignorant 
travellers. Monte-Cristo was en contumacc. A cave filled with jewels. 
Was there a ruined monastery there? A secret-eyed abbe kneeling over 
the jewels. The cavern of Ali-Baba. Faint memories of his boyhood 
reading in the Arabian Nights crept through the mind of Dumas 
as the Tuscan oarsmen turned the boat toward Porto Ferrajo and the 
sharp slap of their oars spurted jewel-chains of water into the sunny 
air. Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo. What an excellent name it would 
make for a romance. 

One evening some months after the trip to Elba, Prince Jerome 
presented a very pained and shocked face to his guest as Dumas 
mounted the steps of the Villa Quarto. This was unusual for the Prince 
was jolly enough in spite of his lost kingdom and "Plon-Plon," his 
son, was a youth of spirit and humor. Dumas was instantly beset by 
the most painful forebodings. "What is it?** he inquired rather 
feebly, for he detested sorrow. "We have received a report that the 
Due d'Orleans has been killed in a carriage accident," replied Prince 
[erome, whose agitation was very plainly for Dumas and not for the 
ruling house of France. For an instant the heart of Dumas seemed 
to stop beating. The Due d'Orteans dead? His patron? The prince 
upon whose knees he had wept the fatal day his mother died ? Dtimas, 
is super-buoyant and sentimental in grief as he was in joy, staggered 
toward Prince Jerome crying: "Permit me to weep over a Bourbon 
n the arms of a Bonaparte." The dinner was a sad and tasteless affair 
ind Dumas excused himself as soon as he could and hurried back to 
Florence. Prince Napoleon accompanied him and both of them 
repaired to the Cachines for verification of the news. It was true. 
Bad news is always true. The Due d'Orleans had been flung violently 
xom his carriage when he had risen in excitement to aid the cocker 
n restraining the run-away horses. His senseless body had been 
picked up in the Chemin dc la Revoke near the Porte-Maillot and 
:arricd to a nearby house. Four hours later he died without recovcr- 
ng consciousness. The date was July thirteenth. 



o6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

The grief of Dumas was excessive, and, viewed from the colder 
\nglo-Saxon attitude, a little theatrical. But it is difficult not to be 
:onvinced of the sincerity of this sorrow. One must take into con- 
;ideration the explosive Gallic temperament and the romantic nature 
>f Dumas before criticizing the obviousness of his anguish. He had 
been peculiarly charmed by the Due d'Orleans and a profound affec- 
tion for that serious-visaged young prince had developed as the months 
brought them in closer intimacy. This affection was tinged with an 
awareness of the comfortable joys of patronage, perhaps, but even 
this regard for self-interest does not seriously impugn its authenticity. 
Dumas expressed his grief by writing feverish letters of sympathy to 
all the Royal, family, to the Due d'Aumale, to the Queen Marie-Amelie, 
to the Duchesse d'Orleans, that quinc that the dead due had won in 
the lottery of life. He even composed a prayer for the little Comte 
de Paris. "O mon ptre qui ctcs aux deux, faites-moi tel que vous &iez 
sur la terre, et je nc demand? pas autrc chose a Dieu pour ma gloire 
h moi, et pour le bonheur de la France" To Le Stick he contributed 
a memorial article and Villemessant, who read it while he was in his 
bath, declared that he wept so copiously that the tub almost over- 
flowed. On July twenty-sixth Dumas learned from the Journal des 
Dtbats that the funeral ceremonies would be held in the Cathedral 
of Notre-Dame de Paris on August third and that the inhumation 
at Dreux would take place the next day. He determined to be present 
at these solemn functions. Starting on the twenty-seventh of July he 
boarded the little steamer for Genoa. On August first, by travelling 
day and night, he reached Lyons and at three o'clock on the morning 
of the third he was at Paris. He assisted in the ceremonies at Notre- 
Dame, heard the solemn music as it swelled through the high nave, 
saw the dignitaries of the kingdom in their black mourning bands, 
and gazed apathetically at the bright sun shining through the stained 
glass of the windows. The next day he travelled to Dreux with three 
college friends of the dead prince, the deputy Guilhem, Ferdinand 
Lcroy, secretary-general of the prefecture of Bordeaux, and Bocher, 
the prince's librarian. At the royal tomb he stood with bare head 
and witnessed the sad solemnity of the inhumation. He recalled Aat 
it was exactly four years since he had seen the body of his mother 
laid away and this intensified his grief. 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 307 

Some days later Doctor Pasquier, with whom he had once sat on 
the bright grass at Compiegne in the Due d*Orlans* company, sent 
him the blood-stained serviette on which the due's head had rested 
after the accident. It was one of the few things that Dumas retained 
all his life. 

But he was not troubled for long. The road was fairly clear before 
him. He was fully aware of the trend of taste in popular letters. The 
long serials of Eugene Sue and Frederic Soulie were enormous straws 
showing which way the huge wind was blowing. Auguste Maquet, 
who had turned over to him the first draft of Sylvandire, loomed 
distinctly in his projects for the immediate future. It was necessary 
for him to relinquish his residence in Florence, first of all, and remain 
in Paris where he could watch the development of events more closely. 
Goodbye, Italian sunlight and lazy days. Goodbye, Prince Jerome 
and "Plon-Plon." It was no hardship to remain in Paris. The summer 
of 1842 was charming and the capital laughed and murmured agree- 
ably under its bourgeois ruler, a trifle bored, perhaps, but not yet 
manifesting too noticeable an impatience. One could drive out to 
Au Rendezvous des Briards on the shaded road of Vincennes and 
dine luxuriously with such excellent fellows as Auguste Luchet, 
fimile de Girardin, Felix Pyat, the chansonnier Breant and Maurice 
Alhoy. The lights beamed warmly and the sleepy birds could be 
heard chirping in the trees. An excellent chef de cuisine* once of 
Philippe's in die rue Montorgueil, had just purchased the establish- 
ment of Parisot in the rue Contrescarpe and was preparing delicious 
fare for wise gourmets. His name was Magny and soon it would be 
associated with a new group of literary figures who would congregate 
in one of his rooms and devour enormous dinners. The Bal dcs 
Acacias had recently opened and innumerable painters, among them 
Paul Delaroche, made it a point to frequent the lively resort and 
select from the habitues, mostly Jews, models for their salon pictures. 
In all the quartiers tiny shops were springing up where one coold 
purchase une fosse de bouillon for twenty-five centimes. Music 
streamed forth pleasantly from the open doors of the cafes and the 
dop-clop of horses' hoofs sounded constantly on the cobbles of the 
boulevards. The colored multitude of people flowed back and forth 



30 8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

in the streets. Madame Planat, the modiste, was the fashionable 
trade's lady of the day and her artfully designed bonnets h la du 
Barry might be seen in all the foyers. The courtisancs, not yet as 
flamboyant as they would be during the reign of Napoleon III, 
mounted the steps of the Op&a; the jMcs, bright-eyed and bird-like, 
wandered along the boulevards; and in the quarter about Notre-Dame 
de Lorette the little Ivrcttts* their full skirts billowed by the breeze 
and their bonnets tied neatly beneath their dimpled chins, hurried 
around corners and through alleys and up long flights of stairs to 
Bohemian studios. It was the era of Henri Murger. Dumas, who 
savored all aspects of Parisian life, saw everything, relished it, and 
expatiated for the hundredth time on the joys of the metropolis. It 
was easy to forget Florence and easier still to do without Ida. The 
bloom had vanished from his marriage and he would see her but 
seldom from now on. Toward the end of September the loyal citizens 
of Villers-Cotterets, hearing that their famous compatriot had returned 
to Paris and settled again in his old lodgings in the rue de Rivoli, 
offered Dumas a banquet. He appeared and revelled in the honors 
paid him and renewed his friendships with half-forgotten comrades. 
On December second, Halifax, a play with an English setting, was 
produced at the Theatre des Varictes. Dumas had written it in col- 
laboration with D'Ennery and while it was typical of his new manner 
it was not distinctive. He was getting his feet planted solidly on the 
ground now, recovering from the shock of the Due d'Orleans' death, 
and cleverly making himself absolutely necessary to the popular 
journals. The year 1843 witnessed him in the full swing of his activ- 
ities, entirely aware of what he was about, and moving steadily with 
the current of public favor. Of course, he could not refrain from 
making his usual faux fas. Dumas would never have been Dumas 
if he had not committed these egregious errors of judgment. Casimir 
Delavigne died and left two vacancies behind him, his fauteuil in 
the Academy and the post of librarian in the Bibliothquc dc Fon- 
tainebleau. Dumas, walking in the funeral cortege behind the body 
of the man with whom he had once worked in the Palais-Royal, 
actually forgot himself so far as to ask Montalivet, who was walking 
beside him, for the vacant fauteutl. He also desired the librarian's 
post for Alcxandre fUs. This was striking while the iron was alto- 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 309 

gether too hot and Montalivet naturally refused to discuss the matter; 
but people talked and Dumas soon discovered that his tactlessness had 
aroused a small storm of censure against him in the press. He did 
not improve matters a whit by writing to Lc Stick: "As several papers 
have stated that I had sought and obtained the post of librarian at 
Fontainbleau, I shall be much obliged if you will contradict this news, 
which has no foundation. If I had desired either of the chairs left 
vacant by the illustrious author of Lcs Mcssenicnnes, it would have 
been only his chair at the Academy," This loud hint fell upon obsti- 
nately deaf ears and Dumas came no nearer the coveted fauteuil in 
1843 than he had in 1840. There was no hope for him there but It 
took him a dreadfully long time to accept the humiliating truth. 
One is a little sorry to see this dogged pertinacity so ill-rewarded (no 
matter how grave the tactlessness often involved in its expression) 
and yet it would be difficult to conceive Dumas as an Academician. 
He never seems to suggest one; there was always too much life in 
him. Other affairs proceeded much better. His version of Sylvandirc 
was completed and being serialized; August Maquet was already 
ferreting out new material for future books; Lc Chcvdicr d'Har- 
mentd was issued in four volumes and received joyously by a large 
audience; and the Theatre-Frangais, that alternate enemy and friend, 
had accepted a new play entitled Lcs Demoiselles dc Saint~Cyr, which 
Dumas had written with De Leuvcn and Brunswick. 

One important event this year must have saddened Dumas although 
he was connected with it only by sympathy. That was the production 
of Victor Hugo's Lcs Bur graves on March seventh at the Theitre- 
Frangais. It was the last feeble blow struck in defence of the Romantic 
Movement that Hugo had enunciated sixteen years before in his intro- 
duction to CromwelL The movement was outdated although it still 
manifested itself in weakening ways. Vacquerie and Prosper Merim&, 
still fighting against time, had gone to C&estin Nanteuil, one of the 
Romantic gods of 1830, and begged him to raise three hundred young 
men to be employed as a claque in imitation of the embattled cohorts 
of Hernani. Nanteuil shook his long hair sadly and answered with 
a profound melancholy: "Young men, go back to your master and 
say that there is no longer any youth. I cannot furnish three hundred 
young men." It was true. The days charged with the electricity of 



3io THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

excitement were over. Men no longer were young or if they were 
they congregated in the Cafe Momus, next door to the Journal dcs 
Dcbats, and discussed other matters than Romanticism. There, play- 
ing tric-trac, one might discover Henri Murger, Champfleury, Courbet, 
Bonvin, Chintreuil, Pierre Dupont and Jean Journet. It was another 
Bohemia with other ideals than those of the young men of 1830. The 
Parisian public preferred to go to the Theatre-Italien and listen to 
Donizetti's opera-bouffe, Don Pasqudc, or the Cirque-Olympique 
where they could laugh at the antics of the clown Auriol rather than 
sit through high-minded Romantic dramas. So, in spite of excellent 
acting Les Burgrav es fell flat. It was hissed from the beginning to 
the end. Dumas had escaped the current of defeat by changing his 
style and when Lcs Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr was produced at the 
Theatre-Franjais on July twenty-fifth with Firmin and Mademoiselle 
Plessy in the leading roles it scored a complete triumph and took its 
place as a regular addition to the repertoire. Like Mademoiselle de 
Belle-Isle and Un Manage sous Louis XV it was bright and sparkling 
and eager audiences crowded to see it. But if the spectators liked it 
some of the critics did not There was Jules Janin, for instance. In 
the Journal des Debats he scored the "verbose sterility" of Dumas 
and remarked: "You must be on your guard, for at the least distrac- 
tion he makes a dupe of you. If you don't put your finger on the 
particular passage that has been stolen he makes a fool of you." The 
plot of Les Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr was ridiculed and Dumas was 
upbraided for his carelessness. The article was quite amusing to read 
but it did not amuse Dumas. He witnessed with amazement one of 
his old friends turning upon him and using the same malicious 
weapons that Granier de Cassagnac and a dozen other nonentities had 
employed, half-truths, false perspectives, and personal bitternesses. 
Naturally he lost his own equilibrium and wrote an indignant letter 
to the Journal des Dibats. There were bitter polemics between Dumas 
and Janin in the press and then the usual climax was reached a 
duel. The principals, accompanied by their seconds, arrived on the 
field of honor. Dumas, as the aggrieved party, chose swords. He had 
not forgotten Fr&leric Gaillardet. "I will never fight with the^ sword," 
declared Janin firmly. "I know a secret thrust that would lay you 
low in a second. Pistols!" Dumas shook his bushy head violently. "I 



THE PORTAL TO MONTE CRISTO 311 

should be an assassin if I consented to pistols/* he said. "I can kill 
a fly at forty paces." The two antagonists, overcome by each other's 
magnanimity, stared at one another for an instant and then flew into 
a warm embrace. In this way was honor satisfied between geniuses 
of France in the 1840*8. 

Two more plays and several books filled out the generous produc- 
tion of Dumas during this year. Louise Bernard, a drama written in 
collaboration with de Leuven and Brunswick, was produced at the 
Porte-Saint-Martin on November eighteenth and Le Laird dc Dum- 
bicfy was given at the Odeon on December thirtieth with Virginie 
Bourbier, an old flame, in the role of Nelly Quinn, "actrice de Drury 
Lane, mcdtresse du Roi" Neither drama amounted to anything. They 
were capable "theater" for their time and that is all that can be said 
about them, except, perhaps, that Le Laird de Dumbicty proved to 
be such a failure that it flung Dumas so out of sorts with the stage 
that he applied himself more assiduously than ever to the romances 
he was writing with Auguste Maquet. The books were more exciting. 
They, after all, were the spring-board from which he hoped to rise 
to that pleasing notoriety that was his greatest pleasure in life. There 
was Georges, a story of the Ile-de-France, written with Mallefille; 
Ascanio, an historical romance of the times of Francois ler in which 
Benvenuto Cellini appeared and which was written in collaboration 
with young Paul Meurice; Le Corricolo and La Villa Palmieri, two 
volumes of impressions de voyage; Filles, Lorettes, et Courtisanes, 
a study of the frail femininity of Paris; and Un Alchirniste au dix- 
neuv&mc s&clc> a biography of Henri de Ruolz, the musical com- 
poser and chemist. It was heterogenous work but through it beat a 
pulse that was unique and that predicted an immediate victory in 
public favor. Dumas was fairly on the upward road, ready to emanci- 
pate himself from the past, and adjust himself to the future. He 
knew what the era desired. It was time to begin* The arc of his 
career lifted toward the skies. 



CHAPTER FOUR 

THE KING OF ROMANCE 



DUMAS, approaching the zenith of his career, found the time pecu- 
liarly ripe for him. It was the era of the efflorescence of the feuittcton 
and in this form of writing, this serialized narrative of adventure, 
intrigue and gustiness that appeared day by day in the journals, the 
romancer found himself admirably at home. Three important and 
necessary elements made possible the supreme success of Dutaas. 
They were: the will of the public, the discovery of the romantic 
potentialities of French history by Dumas, and the appearance of 
Auguste Maquet at the right moment. It was a sublime combination 
for a volatile and undisciplined talent congenitally disposed toward 
popular effort: an audience, a subject, and a meticulous and pains- 
taking aide to shoulder the laborious task of research. From 1840, 
roughly speaking, to the eve of the revolution of 1848 Paris led a 
calm and prosy existence in the home, the streets and caf&. It was 
pleasant enough to sit in the sun at small tables, sip absinthe, play 
dominoes and glance through the papers. There was something 
positively intellectual in perusing the snippet of diurnal fcuilleton. 
It did not take long and it afforded a subject for conversation. It 
speedily grew into a widespread habit. Every journal offered its daily 
bit of fcuillcton and the French public finally expected it as unthink- 
ingly as the aperitif before dinner. Along the boulevards the news- 
papers flowered over a thousand tiny round tables, and the bored 
public, bored by inactivity, by Louis-Philippe, by M. Guizot, by the stale 
flavor of the bourgeois monarchy, experienced a vicarious adventure in 
musketeers and historic personalities from a larger time. Dumas was as 
prepared for his audience as it was for him. He, too, lived vicariously 
in the great deeds of heroes, and he was particularly adapted to pass 

312 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 313 

them on to less imaginative folk. Color, swift movement, the give and 
take of repartee, swords and conspiracies excited htm as much as they 
did his readers. He could laugh unroariously over his Chicot as he 
created him and burst into tears at the death of Porthos. If he was not 
a scholar in the true sense of the word, that mattered little; Maquct was 
his scholar and Maquet became a part of his brain. He could nose out 
the historical material and fling down the glittering treasure trove 
before Dumas, and the romancer, with an unerring skill and intuitive 
prevision of universal appeal, could arrange these finds into the lasting 
patterns of the novels. Dumas had found his formula at the precise 
moment that the Time-Spirit provided him with an eager audience. 

The three years from 1843 to 1846 were years of mounting glory. 
Dumas rose to a pre-eminence far above even the great days of Antony. 
His fortunes were at full tide and he labored like a giant to perpetuate 
them. There was no time to travel and but little time to play. In the 
modest lodgings at 22, rue de Rivoli, or at 109, rue de Richelieu, or at 
45, rue de la Chaussee-d'Antin, or in the Villa Medicis in the rue du 
Boulingrin at Saint-Germain for he moved about much during this 
period he would sit at his desk and apply himself intensively. 
Clothed in his fantdons & pied and shirt-sleeves, his arms bared to 
the shoulder and his collar unfastened, he started to work at seven 
o'clock in the morning and continued until seven at night when his 
son came to dine with him. Sometimes his lunch remained untouched 
on the little table by his side where the servant had placed it. He had 
forgotten to eat. In the evening, after he had dined with Alexandra 
fils> he would recount to his son all that his characters had done during 
the day and rejoice in the thought of what they were going to do on 
the morrow. "Ah, those happy days!" wrote the son in after years. 
"We were both of an age: you were forty-two, and I was twenty!" 

There were constant interruptions but they did not halt the steady 
progress of the novels. The author would stretch a bare arm in greet- 
ing to the unexpected visitor and continue to write with the other hand* 
Guests in the antechambers could hear him roaring with laughter at 
the remarks of his own characters. The industrious Maquet was 
forever rushing in and out, bringing material dredged from the BWi- 
othque or hurrying away for more. When Dumas was m 



3 i4 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Germain a steady stream of notes and copy passed between the two 
men* "Man ttis cher f De la copie le plus vite possible, quand ce nc 
scrait, qu'une dizaine de pages et surtout le premier volume de d'Artag- 
nan A vous, Dumas!' "Si vous avez un moment je serais bien aise 
de vous voir. Noubliez pas de vous procurer le volume de I'histoire 
de Louis XIII qui traite du proems de Chdais et les pieces y relatives. 
Apportcz-moi en meme temps ce que vous avez de travail prepare 
pour Athos" "Mon cher ami,Cest curieux. Je vous avals tcrit ce 
matin pour que vous introduisiez le bourreau dans la sctne, puis j'ai 
jet la lettre au jeu en pensant que je I'introduirais moi-m&rne. Or, le 
premier mot que je Us me prouve que nous nous sommes rencontres. A 
vous, et piochez, car je suis sans besogne depuis deux heures. Que fen 
de pour n heures du soir. A vous, A. D" Maquet was the perfect 
aide. He ransacked the histories of France, filled in chapters, and once, 
when one of Dumas's packets of copy for a journal was lost, rewrote 
the entire section from his own memory. He was the second brain of 
Dumas, almost anticipating the demands of the stronger nature. He 
was assiduous, painstaking, tireless, a fit assistant for the restless and 
gargantuan application of the novelist. A hint from Dumas was 
enough. "Mon cher ami, Nous avons dans votre prochain chapitrc, 
& apprendre par Aramis, qui a promts a d'Artagnan de s'en informer, 
dans quel convent est Madame Bonacieux, ce qu'elle fait dans ce con- 
vent et de quel protection la reine I'entoure" Over night Maquet would 
scramble the chapter together, forward it to Dumas, and the next day 
the romancer would reshape it and hurry it on to the newspaper thai 
was printing the serial. It was not a question of one romance, but of 
several at a time, sometimes five. Guests, debt-collectors and women 
might pass through the doors of the Villa Medicis or the Parisian apart- 
ments but the work never faltered. It proceeded miraculously and each 
day the eager public opened its newspapers to find the new instalments. 



Quite suddenly the Paris of 1844 was g^PP^ and held spellbound 
by Les Trois Mousquetaires and the fame of Dumas outsoared even 
that of the windy politicians of the day. What was M. Guizot beside 
d'Artagnan? What did the dull and aging Louis-Philippe matter now 
that the sly Cardinal Richelieu was manoeuvring against Anne of 
Austria? Dumas (and the unnamed Maquet) ruled Paris. Les Trois 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 315 

Mousquetaires was one of those amazing books that occur once or 
twice in a century* Its sources were few but sufficient. The hook-nosed 
and fierce-visaged youth on a wind-galled yellow pony, who cantered 
into French romantic fiction in 1844, rode straight out of Courtilz de 
Sandraz' Memoir es de Monsieur d'Artagnan, an apocryphal work pub- 
lished at The Hague in 1700. Maquet discovered the volumes and saw 
the possibilities of romance in them. In them were d'Artagnan and 
the three musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis; Miladi and Roche- 
fort (Rosnay in de Sandraz) ; the journey to Paris; the rivalry between 
the Cardinal's guards and the King's musketeers. Dumas fell upon 
this material with a bellow of joy. It was easy to piece out the story 
from other sources. Les Memoires of Laporte furnished the abduction 
of Madame Bonacieux. Roederer's Intrigues Politiques et Gdantes de 
la Cour de France gave the story of the diamond studs sent by Anne 
of Austria to Buckingham. Tallemant des Reaux and Madame de la 
Fayette were ransacked for other hints. From the fertile mind of 
Dumas himself came Grimaud, Mousqueton, Bazin and Planchet and 
the epochal journey to Calais. With so much excellent material at hand 
the problem became one of marshalling the incidents and capturing 
the swashbuckling flavor of a period. How much Maquet did is un- 
known, but it may be surmised that his duty was the securing of color, 
of historical incidents, of characters and the composition of first drafts 
of chapters. Dumas called incessantly for these rough drafts, which 
he would revise or rewrite introducing new episodes and the swift 
play of dialogue. The fact that these characters had once been actual 
figures in the life of France, that d'Artagnan was one Charles de Batz- 
Castelmore, the fifth son of Bertrand de Batz, seigneur de Castelmore, 
that Athos was a Bearnese gentleman named Armand de Sillegue 
d' Athos, that Porthos was an adventurer from Pau named Isaac de 
Portau, and that Aramis was in reality Henri d'Aramitz, a squire and 
lay abbot of Beam, is interesting but unimportant Dumas translated 
these personages into figures of his own fancy. He gave them a new 
life and a new flavor. One has only to compare the heroes of Les Trois 
Mousquetaires with their prototypes in Courtilz de Sandraz' book to 
realize the enduring strength and intuitive taste of the novelist. 

Dumas was indefatigable. Maquet was prodded continually for copy 
and we may imagine him, fired by the example of the older 



3 i6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

bustling about the libraries of Paris, nosing through historical tomes, 
scribbling as fast as he could, rushing from Paris to Saint-Germain 
and back, laboring day and night to feed this ambitious furnace of 
a Dumas* Lcs Trots Mousquctaircs was not the only book being 
written; there were half a dozen other ventures as welL It was enor- 
mous, this industry of Dumas, and muttering voices began to hint 
that no one man could write so much in such a short space of time. 
Of course it was impossible unless Dumas's methods of authorship 
be taken into account. Pushed by newspaper editors, driven by con- 
tracts and urged by his all-embracing ambition, he created his peculiar 
manner of composition, of engaging assistants to do the rough work 
for him, to fetch and carry, to assemble material, to place before him 
the chaos from which he evolved his absorbing narratives. He was 
like Napoleon creating campaigns and ordering his marechaux to carry 
out specific orders. He was like the great Italian painters who per- 
mitted their apprentices to paint in the backgrounds. There is not one 
of the great novels that is not completely dominated by Dumas, not one 
in which his mind and temperament are not imbedded; they belonged 
to him and he to them in spite of the assistants. It is only necessary 
to read the books written by these assistants alone to acknowledge this. 
Dumas was still Dumas without Maquet and Meuricc and Florentine, 
but not one of those estimable men amounted to anything without 
Dumas. He was the force, the plunge, the brain, the style, the gusti- 
ncss, the humor and the scheme. 

Within a few months of the termination of Lcs Trois Mousquctaircs 
Dumas again astonished Paris with Lc Comtc de Monte Cristo. This 
enormous work came from several sources. First of all, there were the 
name and recollection of the mysterious island about which he had 
traveled with the son of Prince J6rome Bonaparte. He had promised 
to put it in a story some time. Then there was the suggestion of Lc 
Journal dcs Dtbats that instead of writing the proposed Impressions 
dc voyage dans Paris he produce a sensational romance that might 
repeat the vast success of Eugene Sue's Mysttres dc fans. A short 
story, Lc Diamant ct la Vengeance, discovered in Peuchet's La Police 
Dwo*lc> gave him the central idea, that of a mysterious man return- 
ing to Paris to punish the villains who had maltreated him years before. 
The matter was discussed with Maquet and gradually the shape of 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 317 

Monte Cristo was unfolded. It was planned to lay the opening chap- 
ters in Rome, and Dumas had already mapped out and partially written 
the adventures of Albert de Morcerf and Franz d'Epinay and was about 
to continue with Monte Cristo's arrival in Paris when Maquct stopped 
him with a sudden suggestion. The youth of Monte Cristo must be 
developed. Marseilles, Danglars, Edmond Dantcs and Mercedes, the 
Abbe Faria and the Chateau d'lf, these were the characters and scenes 
that should be related not as memories recalled by Monte Cristo in his 
later years, as Dumas had intended, but as the opening movement of 
the novel. Dumas considered the suggestion, agreed and recast the 
book in the three parts that the whole world knows: Marseilles, Rome 
and Paris. Once started Monte Cristo proceeded swiftly, for Dumas 
was entirely free in this work; he was bound by no historical charac- 
ters or dates, his imagination had full swing; therefore it is the most 
personal and revealing of his works. It is certain that Dumas saw him- 
self idealized and sublimated in the character of Edmond Dantcs* 
Monte Cristo with his fine clothes, his jewels, his vanities, his love 
of travel, his romantic mysteriousness, his power, his liberality "A 
million? Why, I generally carry that much about on me as pocket 
money!" his egoism, was precisely the ideal of Dumas. The expansive 
gestures and the all-powerful will of the Comtc were reflections of 
that self-dramatization that was so much a part of Dumas f s nature. 

Monte Cristo held Paris enthralled. Every day an eager public 
seized the Journal dcs D&bats to discover what that fellow, Edmond 
Dantcs, was doing. Dants lived for them. He evolved out of a legend 
into a reality and he has maintained that reality ever since. Guides 
today show visitors the cell of Monte Cristo in the Chateau dlf . Duma% 
bowed over his desk, heard the loud acclaim but he did not desist from 
his labors. He was building a huge monument now of which Lcs Troi$ 
Mousquctaires and Monte Cristo formed the cornerstone, and there 
were many other blocks of granite to be hoisted into place. When he 
walked abroad he was admired by eager crowds, and all manner aui 
condition of people flocked to Saint-Germain. Louis-Philippe, observ- 
ing die revival of Saint-Germain and the comparative dullness of 
Versailles where he resided asked the advice of Montalivct as to die 
best method of enlivening the royal suburb. Montalivet said: "Sire, 
Dumas has a fortnight's confinement to do for National Guard duly; 



3 i8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

make him do it at Versailles." The indignant King turned his back 
on his minister and did not speak to him for a month. The idea that 
his quadroon ex-copy clerk with his tete-montee should outdo him as 
the center of attraction was both humiliating and disturbing. Dumas 
admitted his enlivening qualities. "I carry with me wherever I go 
I don't know how it is, but it is so an atmosphere of life and stir which 
has become proverbial. I have lived three years at Saint-Germain, and 
the people of that respectable Sleepy Hollow no longer knew them- 
selves. I imparted to the place a go and liveliness which the inhabitants 
at first took for a sort of endemic and contagious fever. I bought the 
little theater; and the best actors and actresses from Paris, coming 
down to supper with me, used often to perform one of my plays for 
the benefit of the poor. The hotel keeper had no rooms left; the livery 
stable ran out of horses; the railway company confessed to me one day 
an increase in their receipts of twenty thousand francs a year since I 
had come to live at Saint-Germain." 

The effect of the romances upon Paris was prodigious. Men met 
in the streets and discussed the adventures of d'Artagnan. Villemessant 
awakened his wife in the middle of the night to tell her that Edmond 
Dantes had escaped from the Chateau d'lf . Balzac admitted to Madame 
Hanska that he had passed the entire day reading Les Trois Mousquc- 
taircs* Theophile Gautier has written about the excitement that main- 
tained in the city as instalment after instalment of the romances ap- 
peared. It is not necessary to speculate about the reasons for this 
popularity. First of all, there were the novels. There had been nothing 
like them in France before, nothing so stirring, nothing so popular in 
intent, nothing so vivid and skillful and sustained in interest. They 
were calculated to appeal to an extremely wide audience, to the man 
in the street as well as the scholar in his study. Coterie authors might 
sniff at them as vulgar productions, might point out that the chapters 
were lacking in style, that there was no profundity, that the structures 
were sprawling, that history was perverted to serve the ends of ro- 
mantic fiction, but no amount of cavil could erase the vivid impression 
these books left on the minds of readers in all stations of life. Then 
there was the time itself, a dull time wherein the inactivity of Paris 
could only be lightened by vicarious participation in fictional adven- 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 319 

ture. People fled to these books from ennui. It was a natural reaction, 
the same sort of reaction that had culminated in the Romantic move- 
ment and the Revolution of 1830. It would, perhaps, be going too far 
to intimate that the romances of Dumas awakened the imagination 
and strengthened the purposes of the proletariat of 1848, but it is mani- 
fest that the Time-Spirit was carrying a people, unbearably bored, 
toward a vital explosion, and that the literature of the time is always 
an important aspect of the Time-Spirit At any rate, during these 
years of the great romances Dumas was the uncrowned king of Paris. 
Attacks might shake him but he did not fall from his throne. He 
would lose his scepter only when the inconsistent populace shifted and 
turned toward other idols. 

In the midst of this triumph a malevolent attack upon the integrity 
of Dumas was launched by a M, Jacquot who masqueraded under the 
high-sounding name of Eugene de Mirecourt, Jacquot had applied 
to Dumas for employment as an assistant he had a novel up his sleeve 
and it needed retouching but the novelist, either through thought- 
lessness or scorn, ignored the young man. Jacquot bided his time. In 
December, 1844, when the successes of the annus mirabilis seemed to 
have soured him beyond silence, he despatched a curiously worded 
resolution to La Societe des Gens de Lettres. It condemned the practice 
of keeping "literary workshops." "It is reported," declared Jacquot, 
"that a prolific pen contrives by active unworthy devices to triple its 
means by hiring humble assistants, from whom he buys work at so 
much a page. We have now the spectacle of a man coining down from 
the throne of genius to step into the mud of traffic, and setting up a 
shop for thought." The assembled members of La Societe des Gens 
de Lettres, among them the Academician Viennet, Felix Pyat, Massoe* 
Mole-Gentilhomme, the "Bibliophile Jacob" and a rather confused 
Maquet, stirred uneasily. They were quite aware at whom this attack 
was directed although no names were mentioned. Jacquot proceeded: 
"This man should not be allowed to fling away the mask and set him- 
self up as a coryphee of shame. He should not lay his hand 00 Reputa- 
tion, that white-winged maid, to drag her through the mire and violate 
her before public gaze." The assembly listened to this drivel without 
a word. M. Viennet, who detested Dumas, looked cross-eyed cbwut 



320 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

his nose. There undoubtedly was a kernel of truth in what Jacquot 
had to say. There sat a squirming Maquct to prove it. Nevertheless 
there was too much smoke, smoke of bombastic rhetoric, smoke of 
manifest venom, for the small blaze that certainly existed. Collabora- 
tion was no crime; and if the assistants of Dumas were content to 
remain nameless the moral question involved was rather small. There 
was the duty of the author toward the public, of course; that might be 
considered. As M, Vicnnct cleared his throat to speak the door opened 
and Dumas entered. An embarrassed silence greeted him, a silence 
he did not observe at first as he dug a plump fist into Viennet's ribs, 
wrung the hand of Maquct and clapped "Bibliophile Jacob" on the 
shoulder. Someone handed the resolution of Jacquot to Dumas. He 
read it hastily, his face flushing at the innuendoes; then he burst into 
a rage and emphatically denied employing assistants. A moment later 
he recovered himself and publicly acknowledged Maquet, much to 
the discomfiture of the modest assistant. It was obvious that Dumas 
was confused, taken by surprise and uncertain of what to say. His 
vanity was affronted, it is to be suspected, as much as his sense of guilt 
was awakened. It would be a long and complicated story, this explana- 
tion of his methods of collaboration. In what way could he make 
clear how much of himself was in his books and how his own mind 
permeated, almost magically, that of Maquet, for example? The 
meeting of La Societc des Gens de Lettres came to an uncomfortable 
termination after the passing of a weak resolution that it "was urgent 
to regulate the principles of collaboration in literary works." 

Jacquot, however, was not finished. He had merely cast the first 
stone* Now he was preparing a boulder calculated to smash to bits 
the reputation of Dumas. Early in the next year, 1845, he published 
at his own expense a bitter pamphlet called Fabriquc dc Romans: 
Maison Alexandra Dumas ct Cic. It sold widely and created an instan- 
taneous scandal, for it was crammed with spicy detail, malevolent 
description and a long scries of serious indictments against Dumas as 
a writer* Accusations were made concerning the indebtedness of Dumas 
to other works and to a Ibng procession of assistants. The charges of 
Granicr dc Cassagnac were revived and enlarged. Novel after novd 
and play after play were dissected and traced back to purportedly origi- 
nal sources. Minute details of plagiarism and shameless filching from 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 321 

helpless writers crowded the pamphlet. Not satisfied with his attempt 
to destroy the integrity of Dumas as an author he tried savagely to 
destroy him as a man. "The appearance of M. Dumas is pretty familiar/* 
he wrote, "the figure of a drum-major, the limbs of a Hercules in all 
their conceivable extension, prominent lips, African nose, curled head 
and bronzed face. Scrape his hide and we find the savage under- 
neath. He exhibits the marquis and the negro at once, but the marquis 
scarcely goes below the skin. The marquis plays his part in public; 
but in private life he betrays the negro. He flings his gold out of the 
window, flies from one love to the other: blonde or brunette, it is all 
one. There we have the marquis. The sex, though it may be dazzled 
by an ancestral name and a lavish prodigality, is obliged to have re- 
course to a smelling bottle to neutralize a certain doubtful perfume. 
There we have the negro. Does he travel ? He swears at the postillions 
and pays the guides lavishly. When he arrives at an inn, he stoutly 
damns the host, turning everything topsy turvy. Marquis again. When 
he gets home, he drags off his clothes and goes to his work in the pic- 
turesque deshabilU of our first parents. He flings himself on the 
hearth like a Newfoundland dog; he breakfasts, snatching from coals 
roasted potatoes, which he devours without peeling. Negro! He 
loves to frequent places and prostrate himself before kings Marquis! 
Like the chief of an Indian tribe, to whom travelers present beads, 
M. Dumas loves everything that glitters. He has ribbons of all kinds, 
decorations of every country. Such toys turn his brain. Negro all 
over! In fact he is a most original and fantastic personage. He is 
a boaster and a swaggerer: at one time proud as Satan, at another as 
familiar as a city-grocer; today, blustering, tomorrow a coward. Caprice 
is his law, and the first impulse sways him.'* 

Dumas summoned Jacquot to court with the result that the author 
of Fabriquc dc Romans: Alexandre Dumas ct Cic. was sentenced to 
fifteen days' imprisonment. The damage had been done, however, 
and the accusations hung over the career of Dumas like a storm-doud 
for the rest of his life. He had been tarred with mercantilisme litttratrc 
and the stain was never to be removed. Jacquot's attack had unleashed 
a pack of lesser jackals who traduced Dumas continually, invented the 
wildest talcs about him, enlarged the gossip and ridiculed him witj* 
that savagery peculiar to a certain type of Frenchman. If Dumas stif- 



322 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

fcred beneath the storm of libels and sneers he did not show it too 
much* He paraded the boulevards, he entertained, he wrote, he 
laughed and he loved. He joked about his "collaborators" and he could 
afford to do so. The wave was still rising with Dumas on its crest. 
His indignant son might rush into the offices of a newspaper that had 
printed some of these libels and tear up the papers, but the father was 
content to sit back and listen complacently to the snarling of the wolves. 
Let them show their teeth. He knew precisely how much he was 
indebted to his collaborators and how much they were indebted to 
him. Let these collaborators, whose minds he seemed to pick like the 
veriest sneak-thief, write books of their own and show what they could 
do without him. Let the public decide between them. Who was it 
who brought the inventiveness, the dash, the crisp, sustained dialogue, 
the ebullient characterizations to these feuilletons which charmed all 
Paris? Was it Maquet? Was it Paul Lacroix? Was it Fiorentino? 
Was it Mallefille? Was it Paul Meurice? No; it was Dumas, Alex- 
andre Dumas, who conceived so much that he required hacks to carry 
out his innumerable schemes, just as Michael Angelo had required 
anonymous stone-cutters to aid him in quarrying divine forms out 
of hard marble. 

Vilification and legal complications did not stop the flood of books 
proceeding from the pen of Dumas. Saint-Beuve, worried about the 
future of letters, might complain about the enormities of the industrial 
age, and Jules Janin might grumble about the curse of the feuilkton, 
but the workshop of Dumas and Maquet continued to issue books. The 
theater lured Dumas only faintly at this time, although there were two 
productions that require mention, one of which eventually plunged him 
again into the febrile whirl of stage life. 

With the aid of Maquet he wrote a dramatic version of Vingt ans 
aprts which, under the tide of Les Mousquetaires, was produced at the 
Ambigu-Comique on October 27, 1845. Melingue, a handsome young 
actor whom Madame Dorval had discovered in Rouen, played the part 
of d'Artagnan. When Melingue advanced upon the stage to announce 
the author he coupled the name of Auguste Maquet with Alexandrc 
Dumas and the worthy assistant, sitting in a box with his family and 
never expecting such an honor, burst into tears. Dumas had been watch- 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 323 

ing the young Due de Montpensier, and when he saw that impression- 
able prince wince and turn pale at the scene of the execution of Charles 
I he rushed back stage and ordered the gruesomeness of the action 
lessened. Later he paid his respects to the Due de Montpensier. The 
due asked why so excellent a play should be produced at a secondary 
theater. Dumas replied: "Because I have no theater of my own, and to 
have such a theater a Government license is necessary." The prince grew 
thoughtful and a dim hope sprang up in the breast of Dumas. A week 
later Dumas was summoned to Vincennes and there the Due de Mont- 
pensier informed him that he had begged a license from Duchatel for 
a new theater for Dumas and that the novelist might, if he wished, call 
it the Theatre Montpensier. Dumas realized that here was the oppor- 
tunity to conquer another world. Heretofore his plays had been pro- 
duced by directors over whom he had no power; with the Theatre 
Montpensier at his disposal, however, he could do exactly what he 
wished, produce whatever he chose and engage what actors he liked. 
Louis-Philippe, hearing about the prospective theater, called his son 
to him and ordered him to have his name removed from the under- 
taking. "Princes are not allowed the excitements of bankruptcy," he 
dryly remarked. Dumas, therefore, had to content himself with the 
title, Theatre Historique. A company was formed to float the enter- 
prise; the Hdtel Foulon and the adjoining cabaret, L'fipi-scie, on the 
Boulevard du Temple, were bought and within a few months laborers 
were at work demolishing the old buildings and raising the Theatre 
Historique. 

The second production by Dumas during this period was Unc Fille 
du Regent, dramatized from the romance of the same name. It was 
produced at the Theatre-Fran^ais on April i, 1846, and it ran for four- 
teen performances. Dumas, very likely, was not too interested in this 
production; he had more important matters in hand. The Theatre- 
Historique was rising slowly on the Boulevard du Temple and near 
Saint-Germain another amazing edifice was nearing completion. Dur- 
ing the laborious days of 1844 Dumas, troubled by the countless visitors 
to Saint-Germain, determined to rear himself a house somewhat 
secluded from the town. Between Saint-Germain and Pecq and near 
Marly-le-Roi he found an excellent site for a dwelling and calling in 
an architect he discussed the possibilities of a modest house. But as the 



324 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

discussions went on the edifice grew in structure and by the time 
building actually began he had planned a chateau-villa of some size 
and great expense. In July, 1844, ke invited a number of friends to 
view the site and made an engagement with them to see the finished 
building on that day three years hence. Near Marly-le-Roi stone- 
masons, carpenters, diggers and painters went to work raising the 
chateau in which Dumas intended to settle himself like some benevo- 
lent old king who had conquered the world. The summer of 1846 
passed to the agitation of all these enterprises. It is amusing to view 
Dumas at this time, already stout, growing a trifle grizzled, contributing 
to half a dozen periodicals an endless series of instalments of romances, 
hurrying to the Boulevard du Temple to see how the Theatre- 
Historique was progressing, rushing down to the site near Marly-le- 
Roi with suddenly conceived additions to the chateau, cultivating the 
young Due de Montpensier who now succeeded the lamented Due 
d'Orleans as his patron, reveling at the Villa Medicis with charming 
young actresses, dressing louder than ever, creating rare dishes for 
friends, and using Paris for a playground as though it had been de- 
signed particularly for him. Somewhere in Italy a forgotten Ida, 
Marquise de Pailleterie, lived by herself and somewhere in Paris a 
middle-aged woman called Marie-Catherine Lebay observed this 
splendor from afar. 

II 

One September morning Dumas found in his mail a note from M. 
de Salvandy inviting him to dinner. This was important. M. de 
Salvandy was Minister of Public Instruction for Louis-Philippe. 
Arrayed in his most elaborate gilet, with several fobs dangling and 
clutching an expensive cane, Dumas repaired to the home of M. de 
Salvandy. The dinner proved to be excellent M. de Salvandy 
broached his subject direcdy after the dessert while Dumas in the 
pleasant relaxed stupor of the satisfied gourmet leaned back and 
politely refused the proffered pony of brandy. M. de Salvandy was 
talking about Algiers. Dumas opened his eyes as his mind reverted to 
that hot morning in 1830 when he had dismissed his dream of a 
voyage to Algiers with Melanie S. in order to carry a gun to the 
barricades. That had been sixteen years ago* The Minister of Public 
Instruction explained that the French people did not know enough 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 325 

about their African colony and that a volume written about it by 
some popular author might lessen that ignorance as well as have some 
political significance. A readable book full of color and anecdotes. 
Similar to those impressions de voyage. . . . M. de Salvandy sipped 
his brandy and eyed M. Alexandre Dumas. "What arrangements have 
you made for the winter?" he inquired politely. "I never make 
arrangements/' replied Dumas. "I am like a bird on the branch of a 
tree. If there is no wind, I stay there; if a wind comes, I open my 
wings and fly with it." Apparently the wind was about to blow south. 
The insouciant "bird on the branch" forgot the half-dozen feuittetons 
he owed various periodicals. M. de Salvandy mentioned a sum he 
proposed to grant the traveling author who undertook the expedition. 
Dumas remarked modestly that he would supplement that sum by 
three times as much if he were going. "You would not be doing it 
economically," murmured the Minister. "Really, my dear Minister,'* 
protested Dumas, "if you imagine that I practice economy, you must 
allow me to say that, for a Minister of Education, you are very imper- 
fectly educated." M. de Salvandy cleared his throat. "When can you 
start?" he asked. "I should require a government vessel to be put at 
my disposal for myself and my friends," continued Dumas, thought- 
fully. M. de Salvandy demurred, then agreed. "I suppose you are 
busy just now?" he inquired. "I shall have to sell some railroad 
stock," explained Dumas. "I can do that in two or three hours," 
Then, as an afterthought, he added: "And I shall have to finish off a 
few novels. That will take a fortnight. I will start for the south in a 
fortnight." 

The idea appealed vastly to Dumas as he wandered home that nigkt 
Algiers. Dark-faced men in turbans and veiled women with stained 
fingernails. Contemptuous-nosed camels padding by the forgotten 
ruins of an old civilization. Bazaars crowded with the rich stuffs of 
the East. What was the continuation of Joseph Ralsamo compared 
to this prospect? His contracts could lie in abeyance for three majitii& 
The Theatre-Historiquc and the chateau near Marly-le-Roi could rise 
from the earth without his presence. The idea appealed even more 
strongly the next evening when, dining with the Due de Montpensier 
at Vincennes, he broached the subject and the young prince, approviEtg 
it, added: "It would be better still if you were to visit Spain on yqer 



326 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

way to Algiers. I should like you to be present at my wedding in 
Madrid on the twelfth of October." That settled it. The railroad 
stock was sold. A special passport was secured from M. Guizot for 
Alexandre Dumas, "traveling on a mission from the Minister of 
Public Instruction.'* Alexandre fils was encountered on the boule- 
vards. "I am going to take you with me/' remarked the father. 
"Where?" demanded the young man, envisaging a delightful dinner. 
'To the Freres Proven^aux?" "No, no," returned Dumas. "To Spain 
, . . to Algiers." "Oh, very well/' said the son, "we are off to Spain, 
then." Letters were despatched to Auguste Maquet and Louis Bou- 
langer. Maquet, seated on the grass belonging to M, d'Aligre on the 
He de Chatou and complacently fishing, received his letter, read it, 
dropped his rod and hurried back to Paris to buy a trunk. Boulanger, 
standing before a white canvas on which he intended to paint his 
salon picture for 1847, thought the matter over for five minutes, 
dropped his brushes and began to rummage through his studio for 
his misplaced valise. On the third of October all the world seemed to 
be gathered in the courtyard from which started the Laffitte and 
Caillard diligences. Adieux were made. Dumas saw that his three 
large trunks bursting with new clothes and his six chests of guns and 
pistols were safely installed in the vehicle. A horn blew and off the 
diligence started to the cheers of friends. A quarter of an hour later 
Dumas, Maquet, Boulanger, Alexandre fils and a negro domestic 
whose name, Eau de Benzoin, had been shortened to Paul, were aboard 
their train, and the locomotive was snorting showers of bright sparks 
into the night air, leaving behind it Paris, a half-built theater, the 
skeleton of a chateau, some unfinished novels, an unpainted canvas, 
six or seven broken contracts, one or two forgotten love affairs and 
several bewildered and indignant editors. 

It was a figure of importance who ventured upon Spain, a guest of 
royalty and a special envoy from the French government who traveled 
with a suite, clothed himself in resplendent garments and accepted 
with a twinkling gravity the courtesies of the thin-bearded hidalgos. 
Madrid glowed with life and color; there were songs in the streets; 
dancers with clicking castanets; dark-eyed women with mountainous 
combs from which fell their lace mantillas like white waterfalls; 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 327 

long-faced Dons with crafty eyes and parchment-skinned foreheads; 
gypsies with pale bosoms and smouldering glances. The young Due 
de Montpensier walked through the unending series of marriage fetes 
with his betrothed, the slim sister of Isabella of Spain, and as close 
behind him as possible walked Dumas. On the twelfth of the month 
the elaborate ceremony turned a Spanish princess into a French 
princess, and the novelist who had been a poverty-stricken youth from 
Villers-Cotterets stood beside the son of the King of France and signed 
the marriage contract as one of the witnesses. Afterward the Grand 
Cordon of Charles III was presented to him, still another decoration 
for that chest already bespangled with orders. When the wedding 
ceremony was over Dumas, augmenting his party with Desbarolles, 
the palmistry expert, and Giraud, the artist, completed a brief tour of 
Spain. Barcelona. Malaga. Cordova. Seville. Cadiz. The usual 
adventures befell him. The atrocious quality of the food was appall- 
ing. "In Italy your food is bad, and the only good restaurateurs are 
French; in Spain you have no food at all, and the good restaurateurs 
are Italian!" He cursed the execrable fosadas and consigned the dis- 
obliging posaderos to a warmer place than Spain. He discovered one 
way of circumventing these greasy purveyors of inedible food; he 
pre-empted the kitchen of each inn he visited long enough to prepare 
one meal with his own hands. When he was not cooking he was 
observing the Spaniards with an attentive eye. The women drove 
him to distraction. When the Andalusian girls danced before him he 
grew lyrical. "What eyes! What feet! If I do not describe the feet of 
these lovely women, it is really because their feet can hardly be said 
to exist!" The cachucha. The ole. The vito. The fandango. Anita 
dancing on the table while the glasses crashed to the floor. The white 
silken calves of Carmencita and Pietra. They had heard about tike 
French romancer and were eager to see him. . . . "It seemed just as if 
I were a Sultan entering his harem, minus the eunuchs." But when 
he kissed the thin, blue-veined hand of Anita he realized at once that 
he had committed a faux fas. To Maquet he confided that these girls 
were of a v ertu j6roce. At the House of Seneca in Cordova the 
princesses were not so cold; but Dumas and his friends had made a 
vow of chastity before they left Paris and, having kissed the wiffiag 
foreheads of the inmates of this temple of pleasure, they departed. 



328 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

There were bull-fights to witness, theatrical managers to greet, 
enthusiastic townsmen still exhilarated by the adventures of d'Ar- 
tagnan to smile upon, a private bull hunt organized by the Comte 
d'Aguila to thrill one, Alexandre fils to watch, for he lagged behind 
the party and lost himself for a day or two at a time. No journey 
Dumas had ever undertaken proved as successful as this triumphal 
tour of Spain under the powerful protection of the Due de Mont- 
pensier and the French ministry. There were no disappointments, no 
humiliations, no disturbing visits from foreign police officials, nothing 
but smiling welcomes and enthusiastic receptions. It was suggestive 
of the travels of an Eastern potentate, of a powerful Monte Cristo 
passing gorgeously through a civilization that bowed low before 



Le Veloce, commanded by Captain Berard, rode at anchor in the 
harbor of Cadiz. It was a war-steamer of two hundred and twenty 
tons which plied as a despatch boat between Oran and Tangiers. 
Dumas boarded it. He was received with the honors befitting a gov- 
ernmental officer, presented a complimentary letter from Marechal 
Bugeaud's secretary and assigned to his quarters. On November 
twenty-first the vessel drew out of the port of Cadiz while Dumas and 
his companions, minus Alexandre fils who was lost again, stood on 
the deck and watched the receding coast of Spain. The waters were 
calm and, except for the violent seasickness of Maquet, the crossing to 
Tangiers was uneventful. Trafalgar was passed and Dumas meditated 
the history of England and France. He thought it might be summed 
up in six words: Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt, Aboukir, Trafalgar and 
Waterloo. Yet, he thought, England might disappear from the surface 
of the earth and the half of the world upon which she weighs so 
heavily would applaud; but were the torch that blazed in the hands 
of France extinguished half of the world, thrust into impenetrable 
darkness, would emit a cry of agony and despair. It was in the early 
evening, two or more days later, that the mountains of Tangiers, 
crouching shapes like languorous lions, loomed in the clear African 
twilight. As the boat churned into the harbor Dumas could hear the 
distant howls of hyenas and jackals, lonesome ululations that drifted 
across the desolate hills. Here at last was mysterious Africa, the land of 
Jinns and outlandish monsters, of sly slant black eyes and figures muffled 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 329 

in white, of high shrill horns and thudding drums, of long-barreled 
guns and Arabs in dusty bournouses, of bearded Jews in long caftans 
and fat suspicious-eyed Turks. He could smell the strange odor of the 
Orient. The travelers were eager to get ashore and observe this land 
that was as old as Time, this strange edge of civilization that bordered 
the womb of ancient history the Mediterranean. Among the curious 
spectacles Dumas witnessed was an elaborate Jewish wedding. He 
talked to Arabs and he wandered through the narrow streets and 
bazaars. Then returning to Le Veloce, for this stop was but a brief 
foretaste of Africa, he saw the anchor raised and the bow of his vessel 
turned toward the Pillars of Hercules. Gibraltar was reached, Gibral- 
tar inhabited by English soldiers and monkeys, and there Alexandre 
fits was found awaiting patiently the arrival of the boat. He had 
occupied his time in writing poetry. The British governor of Gibral- 
tar, Sir Robert Wilson, "a magnificent old man of sixty-six or sixty- 
seven years," welcomed Dumas heartily, pressed some Moorish pottery 
upon him and witnessed his departure with reluctance. On the 
twenty-sixth of November the war steamer reached Tetuan and here 
Dumas learned that his boat had been assigned originally to pick up 
some French prisoners who had been captured by Abd-el-Kader. 
Dumas insisted that Le Veloce carry out her original assignment and 
the boat was turned toward Melilla where, according to rumor, the 
unfortunate Frenchmen, under the command of Colonel Courby de 
Cognord, were to be found. On arrival there it was discovered that the 
released prisoners, weary of waiting for their rescue ship, had gone 
to Djema-r-'Azouat, and there, as guests of Colonel Macmahon (later 
to be the famous Marechal of the Second Empire, and still later a 
President of the Third Republic) Dumas found them. He arrived in 
time to take part in a huge banquet given by Macmahon in honor 
of the prisoners. The few days of quick journeying in search of the 
French soldiers had excited Dumas to a high pitch and the triumph 
of the culminating banquet seemed to have a curious effect upon die 
imaginative brain of the romancer. He began to think that he had 
rescued the prisoners himself, when in point of fact he had merely 
chased after them in a vessel that was, he admitted, a "mauvais 
marcheur" By the time he returned to Paris he was certain that he 



330 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

had played an instrumental part in the deliverance of his militant 
countrymen from the treacherous clutches of Abd-el-Kaden 

The day after the banquet at Djema-r-'Azouat, Dumas, eager to be 
the first to communicate the great news to the French officials, agreed 
to Captain Berard's desire to proceed at once to Algiers. It was during 
the evening of November twenty-seventh that the vessel departed from 
Djema-r-'Azouat. The next day and night and the morning of the 
day after they crept along the coast. Dumas, Desbarolles, Boulanger 
and Alexandre ftls were on deck most of the time while Maquet, who 
had bumped his head against a low beam, and Giraud, who was sick 
from fear of seasickness, kept to their cabins. About nine o'clock on 
the morning of the twenty-ninth the cry of "Algiers! Algiers!" 
brought the ailing couple into the sunlight. The African city lay 
before them, beginning at the sea and climbing the mountainous 
background to Fort de TEmpereur. As Le Veloce doubled the pier 
prior to dropping anchor Dumas orientated Algiers in its sun-splashed 
surroundings; to the right stretched the blue sea, to the left the plain 
of Mitidja extended from Rassauta to Ben-Afroun, and in the rear the 
peak of Atlas rose over Cape Matifou. France in Africa. It stirred 
the novelist to see the familiar uniforms of the officers congregated 
along the piers and to hear the language of Paris spoken by tie 
clustering groups of white-robed figures. Disembarking with celerity 
Dumas immediately communicated the news of the deliverance of the 
French prisoners from Abd-el-Kader. It was received with the proper 
excitement by the military officers but with a disappointing lack of 
enthusiasm by the speculators, commercial travelers and bourgeois 
merchants who merely asked, "What prisoners?" Another disappoint- 
ment awaited him. Marechal Bugeaud, the Governor, was absent and 
would not return for a fortnight. Dumas's ardor was dampened, for 
he had been especially recommended to Bugeaud and was confident 
of receptions and entertainment from him. General de Bar, now in 
command, was an excellent fellow but he was an unimaginative 
soldier from whom no particular guidance was to be expected. Very 
well. Dumas decided to profit by the absence of Marshal Bugeaud 
and visit Tunis. He presented his letter putting Le Veloce at his 
disposition to General de Bar. The General, uncertain as to what 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 331 

powers had been placed in the hands of Dumas, referred him to Vice- 
Admiral dc Rigodic. The Vice-Admiral, also dubious as to the eti- 
quette of the matter, decided to honor the writer's request and sanc- 
tioned the departure of Le Veloce for Tunisian ports. 

Dumas, now in complete control of the war-steamer, forgot the 
objective of his commission and departed toward the east. A brief 
halt at Bizerta was made and Le Veloce then proceeded to Tunis, 
entering the bay one fine day when the sun turned the huddled houses 
into a blaze of white. Twenty-one shots from the ship's cannon saluted 
the African city and the echoes, heard among the ruins of Carthage, 
announced that Alexandre Dumas had arrived. The visit to Tunis 
proved pleasant and instructive. Dumas visited the bazaars and pur- 
chased rich hangings, carved woodwork, pottery, jewelry and furni- 
ture. He studied the Moorish and Arab women, noticing particularly 
their fine eyes and their inclination toward grossness as they aged. 
He amassed a quantity of notes on the habits and appearance of 
Arabs, Moors and Jews. He visited the holy Marabout of Sidi- 
Fathallah and secured an interview with Sidi-Mohammed, whose 
favor he won by presenting him with a French newspaper verifying 
the safe arrival in France of the Bey of Tunis. Sidi-Mohamined was 
so pleased that he presented Dumas with the Order of the Nicham. 
The ruins of Carthage were visited and on the grey crumbling wall 
Dumas inscribed the name of Chateaubriand with the point of his 
knife. A solemn pilgrimage was made to Chapelle Saint-Louis. At 
Bona Dumas met the lion-killer, Gerard, from whom he heard 
extraordinary stories of the chase, stories which he set down in his 
notebooks and rewrote and sold when he returned to Paris. Tunis 
was left behind and a halt was made at Constantine. There Dumas 
purchased a red-eyed, mangy, ferocious vulture for twelve francs* 
He baptised it Jugurtha, and against the advice of Maquet who shud- 
dered whenever his own eyes encountered the red malevolent stare 
of the bird, announced that he would take it back to France. Jugurtha 
was placed in a large cage and conveyed by coach from Constantine 
to Philippeville. From Philippeville there was a fatiguing walk of two 
miles to Stora where Lc Veloce awaited her distinguished group. 
Jugurtha's cage was too heavy to carry, so the bird it was now in a 
fury of rage because of the many indignities that had befallen it was 



332 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

removed from its prison, a long rope was attached to its scrawny neck 
and Dumas began to drive it before him like a turkey. Jugurtha 
scornfully soared into the air. Yanked down forcibly by the rope the 
bird swooped upon the plump leg of Dumas and removed a generous 
slice of the calf. Dumas slashed about him with a stick and almost 
decapitated Jugurtha before the bird, surrendering with sullen reser- 
vations, fell in with the arrangement and stalked gloomily to Stora 
and aboard Le Vfloce. Desbarolles, Boulanger and Alexandre fils 
were weak with laughter at the spectacle. 

Ill 

When Dumas returned to Paris two storms burst over his bushy 
head. If he had expected to return in triumph wearing his new 
decorations, the Grand Cordon of Charles III and the Order of the 
Nicham, he experienced a disappointment. An angry conclave of 
editors pounced upon him much as a pack of hounds leap at a bear. 
The great playboy, so regardless of duties and promises, so expansive 
in ambition and intermittent in execution, had exasperated even his 
closest friends. They were not willing to welcome him with the 
fanfare he expected, to listen to his embroidered talcs of embassy in 
Spain and Africa, to ignore his procrastinations and defalcations. Not 
at all. He had abused their confidences, disrupted the serialization of 
his fcuillctons in their periodicals and angered their subscribers. 
Dumas, bustling into Paris in mid-January, 1847, overloaded with 
baggage, guns and Tunisian wood-carvers, to say nothing of Jugurtha, 
found a serious action at law confronting him. No less than seven 
periodicals were plaintiffs in the action: La Presse, Le Constttutionnel, 
Lc Stick, Le Commerce, La Patrie, Le Soleil and L'Esprit Public. 
Dumas despatched his Tunisians to Saint-Germain to carve the wood- 
work for his cMtcau, took a hasty glance at the nearly completed 
Th&tre-Historique, engaged a few actors and then faced his formid- 
able array of antagonists. The attack against him was led by Doctor 
V&on of Le Constitutionnel and fimilc de Girardin of La Presse. 
Doctor Veron's attitude needed no explanation, for the romancer and 
the editor had never t>ecn close friends; but it was strange to discover 
fimile de Girardin in this gatirc. What was the matter with the 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 333 

fellow? Did he not understand that France had called Alexandra 
Dumas to Madrid and Algiers and that patriotic duties came before 
those silly bits of paper called contracts ? fimile de Girardin preserved 
a very long and aggrieved face and proceeded with his legal battle. 
There was no time for Dumas to expatiate on his Spanish tour and his 
African trip. The stage for his immediate actions was akeady set and 
it was a large and dusty courtroom. 

The incidents of these proceedings might well have served an astute 
librettist as material for an oftra-boufic. When the hearings opened 
before the first chamber of the Civic Tribunal of the Seine on January 
30, 1847, the courtroom was crowded to suffocation with writers, edi- 
tors, actresses and curiosity-seekers, for it was rumored that the great 
Alexandre Dumas would appear in person to plead his cause. Perhaps 
he would be wearing all his decorations. He did appear minus the 
decorations, however and Paris laughed for weeks after at the 
memory of his naive and bombastic defense. The case against Dumas 
was simple and obvious. In March, 1845, he had concluded an agree- 
ment with Doctor Veron of Lc Constitutionncl and fimile de Girardin 
of La Pressc by which his services would be reserved to them exclu- 
sively. Dumas promised to furnish nine volumes a year for five years 
and publish in no rival periodicals. This agreement was adhered to 
until October of the same year when the two editors were surprised 
to find various publications announcing new works by the author. 
Dumas was summoned before them but he extricated himself from 
their accusations in his usual indefinite way. To Doctor Veron he 
promised a new work. La Dame dc Monsoreau. It arrived in scraps 
at the most impossible hours, generally just when Lc Constitutionncl 
was going to press, and flung the editorial rooms into a state of 
"continual perturbation." The situation at La Pressc was even worse* 
Joseph Balsamo had been running there and the last instalment, ap- 
pearing just before the Spanish trip, had ended with these lines: 
"After this there was little left for the young man except to die. He 
closed his eyes and sank upon the ground." There, declared the indig- 
nant advocate for fimile de Girardin, the character had remained for 
six months while M. Dumas went hunting lions in Africa. In short, 
Dumas had kept none of his promises, only partially fulfilled his 
agreements, accepted payments for which he had made no return and 



334 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

embarrassed the editors. Damages of fifty thousand francs were 
demanded. 

Dumas's defense was a triumph in burlesque. He bellowed; he 
slapped his chest; he harangued the court on the serious purposes 
behind his absence from Paris. Had he not been the only Frenchman 
invited to the wedding of the Due de Montpensier? Was it not true 
that the Grand Cordon of Charles III had been awarded him not as 
a man of letters but as Alexandre Dumas-Davy, Marquis de Pailleterie? 
There was a murmur of laughter in the courtroom. Truly, this Dumas 
was a magnificent buffoon. The gesticulating orator proceeded, 
blandly indifferent to the chuckles he aroused. He had gone to Tunis, 
whose prince, though a native, was not a savage. That prince, unfortu- 
nately, was in France but the brother of that prince, Sidi-Mohammed, 
had received him with the honors due an envoy and had pinned on his 
breast the Order of the Nicham. In Algeria he had collected the most 
precious documents which he would place in the office of the court 
within four days. It would take him that length of time to make a 
book of them. Finished with these grandiose flourishes he considered 
the case against him. He admitted the agreements with Doctor Veron 
and fimile de Girardin but pleaded that they did not cancel his 
anterior agreements with the other periodicals mentioned. "I had 
eighty volumes to publish with them," he declared in a loud voice, 
"to wit: Monte Cristo, Le Fils dc Milady (Vingt cms afrts), Lc 
Vicomte de Bragelonne, Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge, the end of 
La Guerre des Femmes, Le Stecle de Louis XIV, L'Histoire de la 
Pcinture, and others, forming altogether eighty volumes or two hun- 
dred and twenty-six thousand lines to publish; such an amount, 
assuredly, that if the Academy sat down to do it (and they are forty) 
they would be hard pushed during the two years." He proceeded: 
"I did what no man has ever done before. I commenced the publica- 
tion of five romances at one time in five different journals and I 
carried the work to its end. My adversaries are there to say if I have 
ever given a single line that was not in my handwriting. Three 
horses, three domestics and the railroad were hard put to it to trans- 
port my copy and bring back the proofs. At two o'clock in the 
morning my servants were again on the road to Saint-Germain." 
Alternately laughing and gasping with amazement his auditors 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 335 

listened. There was a distinct touch of megalomania in this rolling 
defense, an elephantiasis of the ego that was as disturbing as it was 
laughable. What would happen to a man who went on at this rate? 
It was about this time that Doctor Cabarrus prophesied that Dumas 
would be insane within two years. The novelist was becoming too 
convinced of his ascendency, too certain of his vastness in the French 
scene. Still the extraordinary performance in the courtroom had in 
part accomplished its purpose, and when the Civic Tribunal handed 
down its decision on February nineteenth, the day before the Theatre- 
Historique opened its doors, the damages petitioned by Doctor Veron 
and fimile de Girardin were considerably reduced. Duinas's debt to 
Veron was fixed at six and one-third volumes to be furnished within 
a specified time and three thousand francs penalty. The award to 
Girardin was similar except that the amount of writing was raised 
to eight and one-fifth volumes. One wonders if Dumas did not under- 
stand the psychology of his French audience and overplay his megalo- 
mania for its benefit. 

The tumult of this storm had not died away before a second tempest 
burst. The scene was the Chamber of Deputies and the subject was 
the African trip on Le Veloce. On February tenth, M. Castellane, an 
officious deputy whose immediate desire was to embarrass the govern- 
ment, rose from his chair and put a sharp question to the Ministry. 
Was it a fact that a well-known contractor for stories had been paid 
a large sum to make Algiers known to France and to the . . . Cham- 
ber? Had this person (cc monsieur) been provided with a vessel at 
the expense of die State? "I say nothing of the burlesque side of the 
transaction, but there is a certain delicacy to be observed as regards 
the navy and its sailors, to say nothing of the vessel having been used 
as a Royal packet." The Minister of Public Instruction was requested 
to justify this unusual act of placing a naval vessel at the disposal of a 
private person. The Minister of Marine was also asked why Le Veloce 
had been remqvcd from her proper route and how much coal had 
been consumed by her and what the cost of it was. A second officious 
deputy, M. de Malleville, abetted M. Castellane in the onslaught upon 
Dumas and his mission. The government ministers were slightly 
incoherent in their replies. The Minister of Marine intimated that 



336 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Marechal Bugeaud had written that the affair was a mdcntendu, that 
Le Veloce, regularly employed between Tangiers and Oran, had 
stopped at Cadiz in its regular course but that it had gone to Algiers 
instead of Oran because of the misinterpretation of an order. The 
cruise from Algiers to Tunis was due to the importunities of the 
writer who had insisted that such a journey was necessary for the 
accomplishment of his mission. M. de Salvandy was called to the 
Tribune. In a haughty and final manner he closed the matter by 
admitting that the mission had been simply for Algiers, but that he 
did not find it consistent with the dignity of the Chamber to ask him 
to reveal what passed between him and a man of letters. 

The episode was an excellent example of petty politics and malicious 
insult. We may gauge the meanness of the attack upon Dumas by 
the fact that he was referred to throughout the proceedings as "this 
person" (ce monsieur) although he was without a doubt the best 
known figure in the French capital. As for the justice of the attack, it 
is rather difficult to discover. Dumas certainly had a "mission"; it was 
so stated in his passport. Le Veloce was delegated to carry him to 
Africa; if he seemed to be going too far in requisitioning that vessel 
for the Tunisian venture it must be remembered that he alone was the 
director of his mission. It is true that Lc Veloce was expected to drop 
Dumas at Oran after picking him up at Cadiz but Le Veloce was also 
expected to pick up the French prisoners at Melilla, and, presumably, 
to carry them to Algiers from which port they might be sent back to 
France. As a matter of fact, there seems to have been just as much 
uncertainty on the part of the officials, M. dc Salvandy, the Minister 
of Marine, Marechal Bugeaud and Vice-Admiral de Rigodie, as there 
was presumption on the part of Dumas. Any one of these persons 
could have prevented the Tunisian trip if they had desired so to do. 
It was patent that the novelist had been the butt of an aggrieved 
opposition. 

Dumas, for his part, defended himself by an abrupt gesture. He 
challenged M. Castellanc to a duel, and the faithful Maquet chal- 
lenged M. de Malleville. Both deputies took refuge behind the 
inviolability of their governmental positions and the affair simmered 
down to muttcrings on their part, some resonant declarations on that 
of Dumas, and a gnashing of teeth on the part of the Jacquot- 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 337 

Mirecourt group, who, expecting to witness the demolition of Dumas, 
saw instead a reversal of public opinion in his favor* Indeed, the 
public could not remain out of sorts with the novelist for any length 
of time. Although he might exasperate them by failing to fill his 
obligations, his personality was a mollification in itself. He did not 
possess the mental hauteur of Hugo or the small snobberies of Balzac. 
His vanity was as frank as that of a Fiji monarch covered with 
colored bits of ribbons and glittering shells and seated on a throne. 
He could enjoy the flamboyance of his attitude as well as his retainers, 
What could a public do but forget its irritation before such a magnifi- 
cent pose? Even fimile de Girardin, now that the unpleasant court- 
room scenes were over, could not refrain from renewing his friendly 
relations with Dumas. The two storms passed, then, and the novelist 
found himself none the worse for them. He was still in the ascendent. 
The finishing touches were being put to the Theatre-Historique; the 
players were already in rehearsal for the first performance. The walls 
of the chateau near Marly-le-Roi were raised and furniture was being 
moved in. The market for feuilletons was still abundant. Thackeray's 
open letter in La Revue Britannique accusing Dumas of "lifting" two 
stories without acknowledgment was tempered by eulogy. The cold 
weather was lifting and the sun shone longer every day in Paris. 
God was in His heaven. Louis-Philippe was on his throne. The future 
was roseate. 

During the afternoon and evening of February 20, 1847, a marchand 
de chansons wandered up and down the long queue of impatient 
people along the Boulevard du Temple and peddled hastily printed 
broadsides. The queue had been there since the night before, had 
partaken of thick soup and hard bread, reposed on beds of straw that 
littered the pavement, drained cups of watery coffee in the pale dawn, 
shuffled restless feet throughout the long day and now, to divert itself, 
purchased the broadsides still wet with fresh ink and bellowed the 
stanzas printed upon them. The air was Veux-tu faairc. The title was 
Le Thtdtrc Dumas. The words ran: 

On dit qu'au iht&trc Dumas 
On pourra prendre ses 6bats; 



338 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Vive I'auteur des Mousquetaires, 
Veux-tu t'taire, veux-tu t'taire, 
Bavard, veux-tu t'taire. 

L'thedtre ouvert, aussitot 
On y jouera la Rein' Margot 
Fureur bien s&r die va faire. 
Veux-tu, etc. 

Dans les pieces de poison 
On y mourr'ra pour de bon 
Au public $a pourra plaire. 
Veux-tu, etc. 

De son bonnet d 'colon 
Faudra s'munir, dit-on, 
Car stjour il faudra faire. 
Veux-tu, etc. 

Celui que I'appetit prendra 
Table d'hote trouvera; 
On mangera bon et pas cher. 
Veux-tu> etc. 

Les Funambules, les Frangais 
Ne feront plus pour leurs jrais. 
Debureau se descsptrc. 
Veux-tu, etc. 

Les directeurs de Paris 
De f'la ne sont pas rams 
Us seront forces d'mieux faire. 
Vcux-tu, etc. 

It was the opening night of Alcxandrc Dumas's Theatre-Historiquc. 
The impatient mob, waiting to view the first performance of La Reint 
Margot, gazed upward at an imposing facade. Two huge caryatides 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 339 

designed by Klagmann supported a balustraded balcony behind 
which opened a demi-cupola with elaborate murals by Guichard, 
Above this arched opening was the pediment dominated by a nude 
figure of the Genius of the Seven Arts and on each side were groups 
representing the Cid and Ximena and Hamlet and Ophelia, personifi- 
cations of tragedy and drama. Tall pillars lined the entrance beneath 
the balcony and a blaze of light shone from the four great lamp- 
posts. When the doors were opened and the crowd poured into the 
theater a happy innovation greeted them. Instead of the usual semi- 
circle which maintained in the playhouses of the time Bellu and 
Daunay, the architects, had created a long oval, broad rather than 
deep, with the lines of boxes and galleries parallel to the stage. The 
decorations by Sechan were lavish; the plafond was painted with 
allegorical figures and there was a hemicycle of famous poets and 
actors. Before the audience which crowded the seventeen hundred 
seats and massed in the passageways at the rear hung a vast red and 
gold curtain from behind which came the noise of shifting scenery 
and the barking of an excited stage manager. Hippolyte Hostein, 
formerly of the Ambigu and now the nominal director of this new 
house, hurried to and fro, excited for the first time in his life. This 
was a new venture. There had been nothing like it in the history of 
the French stage. It was, in effect, intended to be a European theater 
as well as a national playhouse. 

Dumas witnessed the realization of one of his dreams in the Theatre- 
Historique. He now controlled his own house. He could produce 
what he pleased in any way he chose. All this was due to the young 
Due de Montpensier and when the prince entered his box accom- 
panied by his suite Dumas was voluble in his thanks. It was an 
excellent theater, comparable with the best in Paris. It was solid, too. 
Had not Dumas tested its strength by inviting several thousand 
Parisians to a preview of the house? A thousand flattered men and 
women had crowded the theater, unaware that their presence had 
been asked merely to test the strength of the flooring. For Dumas it 
was a propitious time for a new theater. Buloz had just been appointed 
administrator of the Th^atre-Frangais and there was an estrangement 
between that yellow-faced editor and the novelist. Mademoiselle Mars, 
old and neglected, was dying m the rue de la Lavoisier. Opera was 



34 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

beginning to come into its own. Mademoiselle Alboni, described as 
the elephant who swallowed a nightingale, was about to make her 
debut at the Opera-Comique, and Verdi's Jerusalem had been ac- 
cepted by the Opera- Alfred de Musset's Un Caprice was in rehearsal 
at the Theatre-Francis. New faces and new ideas were beginning to 
appear in a disquieting manner, just as the Reformists were beginning 
to show their teeth against the bourgeois reign of Louis-Philippe. In 
England a heavy-lidded man named Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte 
observed the agitation of the Reformists with some interest. Dumas, 
whose great days were bound up in the era of Louis-Philippe, must 
have realized his good fortune in possessing the Thatre-Historique, 
although when the great red and gold curtain rose at six-thirty on the 
evening of February 20, 1847, he could not have known that it marked 
the peak of his career in the dramatic life of France. 

An excellent company under the direction of Hostein had been 
gathered for the first performance. Etienne Melingue, the distin- 
guished romantic actor who had already made his worth known in 
tla plays of Dumas, acted Henri de Navarre. Rouviere, one of 
Dumas's discoveries, played Charles IX and carried away the honors 
of the evening by his remarkable personification. Marguerite de Na- 
varre was acted by Madame Perrier-Lacressionniere. Other members 
of the troupe were Messieurs Laferriere, Bignon, Lacressonniere, Col- 
burn and Boutin, and Mesdames Atala Beauchne, Person and Lucie 
Mabire. La Reinc Mar got, an acknowledged collaboration with Au- 
guste Maquet, was an extremely long play and when the curtain fell 
upon the fifteenth scene it was after three o'clock in the morning. The 
Due de Montpensier sat bravely throughout the nine hours of per- 
formance, and so, too, did Thlophile Gautier, who wrote the next 
day in his critique of the drama: "We must ask the indulgence of the 
reader, for, without being like good old Homer, we are likely enough 
to be found nodding as we write, and dropping our pen in the middle 
of a sentence. We did not get to bed until broad daylight.* 1 In spite 
of its length the effect of La Rcine Mar got was tremendous and the 
Th^atre-Historique was triumphantly launched on its first year. The 
public crowded the theater for the very reason that eventually it stayed 
away. In these plays refashioned from the popular feuillctons of 
Dumas they heard a phraseology that they not only loved but knew 




fiTIENNE MELINGUE 
As Chicot in La Dame de Monsoreau 




ETIENNE MELINGUE 

As d' Artagnan in La Jeunesse 

des Mousquetalres 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 34* 

by heart. They saw in physical action upon the stage the characters 
they had pictured in their mind's eye as they devoured the daily 
instalments. But this was sure to pall, because at best only a part of 
their curiosity was engaged. When the troublous days of revolution 
came and they were only a year away the audiences forsook the 
dramas of the Theatre-Historique for the dramas of the streets. But 
for the present Dumas was at the high pitch of his popularity, the 
most famous figure in the capital, and he moved like an Eastern king 
through all this adulation. On the first day of May, Louis-Philippe's 
fete-day, when the various fonctionnaires appeared at the Louvre to 
pay their respects to the King, a heavy figure was to be observed in 
the grand gallery, striding along in the habiliments of a commandant 
of the National Guard and with a bosom suggestive of a jeweler's 
window in the Palais-Royal, for upon it glittered five crosses, four 
vari-colored decorations and three collars. Dumas was going to pay 
his respects to the King. 

Play succeeded play during the first year of the Theatre-Historique 
and all of them proved either greatly or fairly successful. On the 
twentieth of May L'ficolc des Families by Adolphe Dumas (who was 
no relation of Alexandrc) was produced. But Dumas was somewhat 
averse to presenting dramas by other writers. Maquet and he could 
satisfy the demand. Lc Mart de la Veuve, the charming bit Dumas 
had written with Anicet Bourgeois and Eugene Delrieu in 1832 and 
which had been produced during the fatal cholera month, was revived 
on May twenty-fifth. On the eleventh of June Intrigue et Amour was 
presented, a hurried and mediocre adaptation from Schiller by Dumas, 
and it scored only a fair success. It was on August third that the 
second great success aroused the audiences of the Theatre-Historique 
to loud demonstrations, A dramatization of Lc Chevalier de Maison- 
Rouge was staged. It rose steadily to the foudroyant triumph of the 
scene of the Revolutionary Tribunal where the condemned Girondins 
sang Mourir four la patrie. 

Par la voix du canon d'alarmes. 
La France appelle ses enfant*. 
"Aliens, dit le soldat, aux armesl 



342 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Ccst ma nitre, jc la defends. 
Mourir pour la patric, 
Ccst le sort le plus beau, le plus digne d'envie!" 

Dumas, listening to the song as he stood in the coulisses, said to a 
bystander: "Our next revolution will be performed to that tune." He 
was right. Six months later the enraged bourgeoisie was parading the 
boulevards and roaring Mourir pour la patric while the aged and 
bewildered Louis-Philippe was fleeing to England. 

After the long performance of Le Chevalier de Maison-Rougc 
Dumas, now installed in his chateau at Saint-Germain, discovered that 
it was too late to travel home and so begged asylum of Melingue for 
the night. Melingue took Dumas home with him, showed him his 
bed-chamber and, exhausted from his performance, retired to his own 
room and climbed into bed. He was dozing when he heard a thun- 
derous racket in the next chamber. Starting up the actor hurried to 
the door of Dumas's chamber, rapped sharply and cried: "What is the 
matter?" A round perspiring face peered through the door. "Noth- 
ing," said Dumas, "nothing at all. I am arranging your chamber. 
The armoire a glace was deplorably placed and the bookcase is much 
better where I have put it." Melingue thought that four o'clock in 
the morning was too late, or too early, to arrange furniture. He said: 
"You have done enough butchering this evening at the theater." 
Dumas had been revising the mise en sctnc at the Th^atre-Historique 
to the nervous irritability of the players. "I forbid you to change 
anything in my house. The furniture looks well enough where it was 
and the mise en sctne of my apartment pleases me as much as the 
mtse en sctne of Le Chcvdier de Maison-Rougc displeases you." He 
blew out Dumas's candles and sulkily returned to his bed. Next 
morning Dumas repeated to Melingue: "I assure you that your book- 
case would be much better placed by the wall toward the court and 
your armoire on the side toward the garden. If you try it you will sec." 

One other production was made at the Th&tre-Historique during 
1847. It was the translation of Hamlet which Dumas had made with 
Paul Mcurice and which had been privately performed at the Saint- 
Germain theater some time before. Rouvi&re again made a distinct 
impression, this time in the r6Ie of the Prince of Denmark, Dumas, 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 343 

gazing back over the list of productions, congratulated himself. The 
Theatre-Historique was a manifest success. It had drawn to itself 
a large public and the receipts for the first year totaled seven hundred 
thousand francs. The prospects for the future seemed bright. He had 
his theater and his chateau between Saint-Germain and Marly4e-Roi. 
What he would do when the flame burst and the throne fell was 
another matter. His sense of the dramatic would guide him then. 
But during the summer and autumn and early winter of 1847 it did 
not seem that any throne would fall. The Reformists bellowed and 
planned their banquets of demonstration, but the entire Revolutionary 
movement, if it could be dignified by that name, was like a damp keg 
of powder. Here and there it sputtered feebly but there was no 
thunderous detonation nor did one appear to be in prospect. The Paris 
of 1847 like the Paris of 1869 did not see the shadow on the other side 
of the door. That portal was always blown open by unexpected guns. 

In July of this prosperous year the chateau near Marly-le-Roi was 
ready for visitors. Melingue christened it Monte Cristo. Dumas 
invited some five or six hundred guests to the fairy palace, not quite 
completed, which Plante had reared. The guests saw rising before 
them an edifice half chateau and half villa embowered in trees and 
surrounded by a luxuriant garden. Before it stood the massive form 
of the proprietor dressed in an elaborate National Guard uniform, a 
broad smile on his face, large hands extended in welcome. Now he 
was Monte Cristo himself, the man who owned the world, whose 
mines of gold were all the journals of Paris which printed jcuillctons 
and a theater which was crowded nightly, and he assumed the role 
with the gorgeous histrionism of a negro- The chattering visitors, 
journalists, authors, actors, actresses, hangers-on in the Bohemian 
milieu of the capital, walked up the path toward the giant above 
whose head rose the two high campaniles of his impossible dwelling. 
They gazed upon Monte Cristo and were alternately impressed and 
amused. The white stone walls were covered with exquisite traceries 
copied from those of Jean Goujon in the Louvre by one Choistat and 
the curving lines of the great bow windows were carried up into the 
roof. Prominently carved in large stone letters was the motto Dumas 
had taken for himself, "J'tdmc qui m'aime" Around the building 



344 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

ran a balcony, such a balcony as might shelter some Roxane while a 
hidden Cyrano de Bergerac cried out his love from the shadows 
beneath the moon-splashed walls. Leaded windows, turrets, flam- 
boyant weather-cocks and carven faces started out from the glittering 
stone of the curious facade. The assembled guests looked and whis- 
pered among themselves. They spread over the grounds, wandering 
through the leafy gardens and crowding the circular terrace which 
ended in a grassy slope and down which artificial streams flowed in 
cascades. They paused before the miniature island not far from the 
central building and admired the toy water-gate and the two-foot 
moat across which Dumas might step like a new Gulliver in Lilliput 
They gazed at the theatrically constructed kiosk on the island and saw 
red letters on every brick that composed it. Advancing they discovered 
that each one of the bricks was inscribed with the title of one of 
the plays or books of Dumas. He had created enough titles to cover 
the entire building. Peering through the quaint windows they dis- 
covered that the interior of the small kiosk was a tiny hexagonal room 
with a ceiling of sky blue studded with golden stars and cross-beamed 
with oak which had been carved into imitation foliage. Blue cloth 
hangings swayed from the door and windows, and a lofty and ex- 
travagantly festooned mantelpiece filled one corner. The petitencss of 
the chamber limited the furniture to one chair, a large and strong one, 
and a small solid table. But that was enough. Upon the table were ink, 
paper and quill pens. Above the door was the warning, "Cave cancm" 
It was the den of Dumas, the sanctum sanctorum of the fcuillcton. 

Turning back to the chateau-villa the guests trooped through open 
doors flanked by dark-skinned Moslems in flowing robes and turbans, 
the two slaves of the Bey of Tunis whom Dumas had brought back 
from Africa. Inside they found a waiting room with walls delicately 
carved in fret-work and with designs created by Klagmann, a salon 
hung in costly cashmeres, a dining room walled with oak paneling 
and a small chamber which Dumas affectionately indicated as "la 
chambre Arabe" This amazing room, so calculated to create the 
atmosphere of the loving tfre-b-t&e, was a sort of super-Oriental divan 
divided by Moorish arches. Its walls and ceilings were a single design 
of beautiful arabesques recalling the supreme moulding of the Al- 
hambra. The arches were hung with violet velvet and about the lower 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 345 

half of the fretted walls ran a series of mirrors. The guests gazed and 
sighed. The lights were dimmed in this chamber; the air was redolent 
with the gentle scents of harem perfumes. Like the star-studded kiosk 
on the little island this, too, was obviously one of the private work- 
rooms of Dumas. It was unfinished as yet indeed, it would never 
be completed but it was sufficient for its appointed task. 

Upstairs, up elaborate stairs, went the procession of guests and they 
found a series of chambers imitative of varying periods. There was a 
Gothic room, cool and twisted and slightly sardonic in its atmosphere. 
There was a Renaissance room piled with curious furniture and 
walled with reproductions of great paintings. There was a Henri II 
room, wide and airy and not too crowded with chairs and bed. There 
was a Louis XV room in which Madame du Barry herself might have 
slept. The guests discovered new wonders at every turn, rich stuflfs 
from Africa, hangings, chairs, old weapons, curiosities ransacked from 
the antique dealers of Paris, vases and pictures. They hurried down- 
stairs and up again, around the grounds once more where they came 
upon a coach house and stables, in which four blooded horses neighed 
and rolled their eyes. Then there was the conservatory, the fruit and 
flower gardens, the dog-kennels where half a dozen hounds bayed, the 
aviary where Jugurtha, the mean-spirited vulture, glared viciously from 
his corner; the poultry yard and the monkey-house where three apes 
squealed and gabbled at the peering actresses. It was like an Arabian 
Nights dream, the dream of a mind that fed itself on the Thousand 
and One Tales of Sheherazade. One last touch. Leon Gozlan paused 
before a huge frieze of medallions representing all the famous authors 
from Homer to Victor Hugo. The stone faces of the literati gazed 
down in speechless amazement at their surroundings. "I do not see 
you there," said the journalist to the strutting figure in the National 
Guards uniform. Dumas drew himself up and replied, "Me? Oh, I 
shall be inside!" 

Divine Monte Cristo! 

Life in the chateau-villa proceeded on a scale as elaborate as the 
architecture and furnishings. Open table was maintained always, and 
although guests were expected to confine themselves to a week-end 
they made unexpected appearances every day and at all hours. The 



34 6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

adventurers and parasites flocked from Paris to make the most of this 
golden opportunity, wolfing rich foods, borrowing as much as Dumas 
could give them and even settling down until better prospects turned 
up for them. A succession of fair and frail women (among them 
Madame Scrivanek, Allemandc ragofoante et stupide) passed through 
the high door above which was printed, "J'aime qui m'aime? and 
assumed the duties of chatelaine. These femmes adorables devoured 
the income of Dumas. No matter how many thousands of francs he 
earned from his writings and his plays, they vanished as speedily into 
the bright air above Monte Cristo. The tremendous vitality of Dumas 
was never more apparent than during the few years he lived at Monte 
Cristo. By day he worked, retiring to the star-studded kiosk and 
deliberately turning his chateau over to the hordes of visitors. Clad 
in white trousers and shirt, he sat by the window and wrote, having 
his meals brought to him. He could hear the loud laughter from his 
extravagant chateau and it seemed to please him as he buried his 
shaggy head deeper in the feuilleton of the moment. By night he 
played, sitting at the head of his table, ordering champagne when the 
mn ordinaire was exhausted, leading the entire gathering to the hotel 
at Saint-Germain when the provisions at Monte Cristo ran out, and 
enlivening his feasts with the most elaborate entertainments. Natu- 
rally it could not last. Before the first year had sped away the cred- 
itors, those doleful vultures who always followed Dumas, were circling 
down on Monte Cristo, bootmakers, tailors, wine merchants, provision 
dealers, jewelers; but Dumas met them with a bland smile, kept them 
to dinner, increased his debts by ordering more and sent them away 
puzzled and disgruntled. He had a way with him, they admitted, 
and when they were in his presence they thought him the best fellow 
in the world no wonder the natives about Marly-le-Roi shouted 
gaily to Monsieur Doumass but when they reached Paris empty- 
handed a growing irritation possessed them. He had filled them with 
cajoleries and promises and fine food and they had agreed to supply 
him with more goods. 

Meanwhile the political temperature was rising. Dissatisfaction with 
the ministry of M. Guizot and the narrowness of Louis-Philippe 
mounted to a climax. The Riformistc demonstration in Paris was 
forbidden and the Time-Spirit turned the corner of 1848 with a solemn 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 347 

and threatening face. At the Thatre-Historiquc Dumas presented a 
dramatization of the first half of Monte Cristo. It was played in two 
parts, the premieres taking place on February third and fourth, and 
it seemed to please the audiences, although these people were already 
engrossed in more serious matters. The political vanities of Dumas 
did not assert themselves as vibrantly as they had in 1830, in spite of 
the fact that he was manifestly friendly to the Reformist? movement. 
But when the February Revolution burst, that demonstration which 
became an insurrection and then, at the eleventh hour, was turned 
into a revolution by excitable soldiers, the ardour of Dumas flared 
forth. While Louis-Philippe was fleeing from Paris sobbing, "Comme 
Charles XI" and the mobs were parading the boulevards singing 
"Mourir pour la patric" the novelist, in his National Guard uniform, 
was attempting to rouse the apathetic folk of Saint-Germain. He was 
at the Chamber of Deputies in Paris when the proposal to make the 
Duchesse d'Orleans Regent was vetoed. To fimile de Girardin, editor 
of La Presse, he wrote: "To you and to the Constitutional belong 
my novels, my books, my literary life; but to France my words, my 
opinions, my political life. From this day forward there are two 
persons in the writer, and the public man will be the complement of 
the poet." The old ambition was burning within him once more, but 
not so fierily, not so demonstratively as it had years before. There 
were reasons for his lukewarm attitude. In the first place, he was 
older and more lethargic. In the second, he was bound by curious 
ties and obligations to the Orleans dynasty; for Louis-Philippe had 
been his first patron, the dead Due d'Orleans had been his second 
and the Due de Montpensier was his third. Again, the Revolution 
seemed like a regrettable accident, an explosion that had not been 
expected nor desired. Still further, Dumas had flourished under the 
reign of Louis-Philippe and perhaps he suspected the obvious truth 
that the era of the jeuillcton and the Theatre-Historique would pass 
with that ruler. At the same time, Republican sentiments bubbled up 
within him and the idea of a seat in the Assembly followed closely 
the climax of the Revolution. Was not Lamartine a part of the pro- 
visional government that now ruled the anarchistic city of Paris? Why 
should he not take his seat as one of the governing fathers of France? 



348 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

In thd midst of the turmoil and angry redistribution of power, 
Dumas began to consider the possibility of a political career. 

Dumas did not realize that the February Revolution of 1848 was 
the beginning of la chute for him, that his great days were finished. 
An era had been abolished with Louis-Philippe, and Dumas belonged 
to that era. The new state of affairs, the domination of Louis- 
Napoleon Bonaparte, meant another mental attitude, a fresh social 
consciousness and another literature. The placid days when the 
fcuillcton spelled excitement were over. The reorganization of the 
Second Republic was to bourgeon into the extravagant era of the 
Second Empire, and not for twenty-five years was Paris to know the 
peacefulness which had marked the reign of the Orleans dynasty. 
Dumas's first gestures during this new era were untactical for a man 
ambitious of election to the National Assembly. He established a 
periodical, Le Mois, with the motto, "God dictates and I write." God 
dictated many curious things during the short career of Le Mois, among 
them a protest against the removal of the equestrian statue of the Due 
d'Orleans from the courtyard of the Louvre, a demand that the Due 
de Chambord be recalled from exile and another that the government 
of Algeria be restored to the Due d'Aumale. On March fourth Dumas 
wrote to the exiled Due de Montpensier: "I was proud, my lord, to 
be called your friend when you occupied the Tuileries; now that you 
have left France I claim that title." In Saint-Germain an angry Repub- 
lican attempted to shoot him for calling the prince "my lord." Another 
furious burgher of Saint-Germain observing Dumas's breast covered 
with medals and orders shouted during a political meeting: "There's 
a Republican with a fine lot of crosses!" Dumas replied: "If I wear 
these things it is not for vanity, I swear to you; but purely and simply 
from not wishing to disoblige the parties that gave them. Where is 
the good of annoying these poor kings!" In the face of anti-Orleanist 
sentiment such conduct was little less than mad. Yet Dumas with a 
sublime ignorance of his own precarious standing searched for a 
favorable constituency from which to take his place in the National 
Assembly. He decided against the department of the Seine-et-Oise 
because the natives regarded him as "immoral." The department of 
the Aisne was dismissed because of the raid on Soissons in 1830, 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 349 

Eventually he decided on Yonne, a district that produced many 
grapes. His campaign there was a farce from beginning to end. At 
Joigny he was received with hisses and one fellow shouted: "Ho, 
Ho! Negro!" There was an uproar and for a time it seemed that 
the meeting would end in a free for all fight. One of the electors 
cried: "You profess yourself a Republican; yet you assume the title 
of Marquis de la Pailleterie, and you have been secretary to the Due 
d'Orleans." From the platform Dumas answered: "Yes, I once 
claimed that title, of which, as being my father's, I am proud; that 
was at a time when I had made no name of my own. Now I am 
someone on my own account; I call myself plain Alexandre Dumas, 
and all the world knows me. You, Monsieur, as well as any other 
you, an obscure nobody, who come here to see me and insult me, 
just that you may be able to go away and tell people tomorrow that 
you have known the great Dumas . . ." Before the conclusion of 
the meeting Dumas held his audience in the palm of his hand by 
his witty anecdotes, his sentimental appeals, his gestures and his evi- 
dent sincerity. Yet he was not elected to the National Assembly. 
When the votes were counted his defeat was decisive. The ambition 
to have a place in the Assembly was never to be satisfied any more 
than that other ambition to sit in the Academy. 

So busy had Dumas been during his political campaign that he 
hardly noticed the drop in his fortunes. The public which was for- 
merly so avid of historical romances and plays no longer cared for 
them. History was being made on the great stage of Paris, contem- 
porary history, and it was infinitely more vivid than the resuscitated 
times of Louis XIV. Why should audiences sit in the Theatre- 
Historique and applaud mimic battles and conspiracies when they 
could view kindred actualities in the streets, shudder at the June riots, 
observe Cavaignac, the dictator, riding down the boulevard, or see 
the pale expressionless face of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte raised in 
the National Assembly? So the audiences at the theater on the Boule- 
vard du Temple dwindled, and instead of the 700,000 francs taken 
in during 1847, the paid admissions in 1848 reached 300,000 francs. 
The repertoire, of course, had been disturbed by the Revolution, and 
except for the production of Monte Cristo the only new play offered 
was Catilina which had its premiere on the fourteenth of October. 



350 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

The less said about this play the better. Books continued to come 
from the industrious pens of Dumas and Maquet. Les Quarante-Cinq 
and Le Vicomte dc Bragdonnc were issued to readers too disturbed 
by contemporary events to receive them as they had received Les Trois 
Mousquetaires and Lc Comte dc Monte Cristo. Then there were 
Impressions de voyage: de Pans h Cadix and Impressions de voyage: 
Le Veloce ou Tanger, Alger et Tunis, presumably the two works 
that M. de Salvandy (now, alas, vanished from sight) had desired as 
a result of Dumas's "mission" to Africa; but who cared about Africa 
at this time? The topics of immediate interest were Paris and whether 
Louis-Napoleon would be elected President of the new Republic. He 
was. This election opened the door to the new era, but for the moment 
it seemed that nothing would be changed. Although the Theatre- 
Historique had slumped in receipts during 1848 Dumas was sanguine 
for 1849, After all, 1848 had been a crisis, a troubling of the waters. 
Now, however, the whirlpool had quieted. Maquet was so certain that 
Dumas would make a vast fortune that on March 10, 1848, just after 
the February days, he signed an agreement by which he turned over 
to Dumas all his author's rights in the novels for the lump sum of 
145,200 francs, to be paid in monthly instalments over a period of 
eleven years. It seemed like money in the bank to Maquet for the 
unfortunate young man did not realize the precariousness of Dumas's 
status. 

Slowly at first and then with increasing speed the fortunes of Dumas 

tumbled from their high estate. The attempt to bolster up the 

Theatre-Historique during 1849 was but partially successful Four 

plays were produced, three of them dredged from the popular 

romances, but they failed to kindle their audiences as Le Chevalier de 

Maison-Rougc had done in 1847. On February seventeenth La Jeun- 

esse des Mousquctaircs was presented, but not even the wiry d'Artag- 

nan of Melinque saved the performance. On July twenty-sixth an 

elaborate production of Le Chevalier d'Harmcntd, with Numa as 

Buvat and A. Roger as Roquefinette, failed to arouse the spectators! 

This drama was followed on October first by La Guerre des Femmes 

which marked the return of the trusty Melingue in the r61e of the 

Baron de Canolles. One more production remained, Le Comte 

Hermann, presented on the twenty-second of November. This play 




DUMAS TOWARD 1850 

He bad just passed the peak of his popularity 




ALEXANDRE DUMAS, fils 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 351 

was interesting as a comment on the growth of Dumas as a dramatist, 
for it was a modern drama, a return to the type of Antony and Angtle. 
The fierce passion of those earlier days had disappeared, however, 
and in its place was a mellower attitude toward the social scene. Not 
one of the four plays was an outstanding success and when the end 
of the year came Dumas realized that the Theatre-Historique was 
running into debt. Except for one, Lc Collier dt la Reine, the books 
published in this year were negligible. It was difficult for Dumas to 
comprehend that the great days were over, but the fact must have 
been evident to him as he cast about each week for money to meet 
his obligations. Monte Cristo had developed into a white elephant 
and the proprietor was already flinging art treasures and decorations 
to importunate creditors. One day the worried Dumas heard a shrill- 
voiced young actress explaining that "son protccteur" was thinking 
about buying Monte Cristo for her. "Your friend is rich, then?" he 
demanded. "Very rich," chirped the actress. "He is an angel. It 
seems to me, sometimes, that he has wings." "De$ ailcs dc pigeon!" 
grumbled Dumas passing on his way. 

Quite suddenly he found himself fighting with his back to the 
wall. The Second Republic of the Prince-President had done what 
Jacquot and his pack could not. dodestroyed him financially. If he 
thought about it at all it must have seemed strange to him, his rocket- 
like career that had shot upward in 1844 and then dropped in a 
shower of sparks after five years of splendor. Fortune was an incon- 
stant jade, at one moment pressing the riches of the world on a beggar 
and at the next hurling a king from his throne. She was like the city 
of Paris, fair, frail and forgetful. Dumas began to know again the 
pinch of poverty; all that he possessed was being swallowed up by 
the expenses of the Theatre-Historique and Monte Cristo. When 
Madame Dorval died penniless in 1849 he pawned the Order of the 
Nicham, his most elaborate decoration, to pay for her funeral, fimile 
de Girardin refused him small loans. Friends began to fall away and 
new faces appeared in positions of importance. The shadow of the 
spirit of the impending Second Empire lengthened along the boule- 
vards. At the Th&tre-Historique the productions continued through 
1850, Urbctin Grandicr on the thirtieth of March and La Chassc au 
Chastrc on August third, but the actors played to empty benches. 



352 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Dumas turned to other theaters from which he might hope for a 
little money but except for one or two one-act productions there was 
no help there. He was a man bowed beneath two burdens, the 
Theatre-Historique and Monte Cristo. He could not put them down 
nor could he carry them. His debts grew to mountainous proportions 
and the bailiffs made their appearance at Monte Cristo, dismantling 
the chateau of its most extravagant furniture. A few books were flung 
in the face of disaster but they were of little avail. Early in 1851 the 
complete crash came. Monte Cristo had been fully mortgaged to 
carry on the Theatre-Historique, and the theater that had been 
launched so successfully under the auspices of the Due de Montpensier 
closed its doors. It was all over. Nothing was left but the vast barn 
of a theater that would be torn down presently to make way for one 
of Louis-Napoleon's boulevards. The creditors took over Monte Cristo 

and Dumas was homeless. 



On the early morning of December 2, 1851, Louis-Napoleon Bona- 
parte, Prince-President of France, surprised Paris with a coup d'etat, 
putting into execution those secret plans he had kept in a private 
portfolio ominously marked "Rubicon." That day the dismayed 
populace discovered that the Assembly had been arbitrarily dissolved, 
martial law proclaimed, and a new constitution drawn up, a plan 
of government to be headed by a president elected for a term of ten 
years. This project was to be submitted immediately to the "good 
people" of France for vote. As most of the opposition leaders and 
antagonists of the new dictator had been quietly arrested in their 
homes during the night and spirited away to prisons, the people in 
the streets found themselves without leaders. Still, though the masses 
seemed apathetic and would not pour out to the barricades as they 
had in 1830, there was desultory fighting. These reckless demonstra- 
tions reached their peak on the fourth of the month when barricades 
were raised in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, the Boulevard Bonnc- 
Nouvelle, and the rue Montorgueil. Musketry-fire swept these flimsy 
defenses and innocent bystanders at the corner of the Faubourg Pois- 
sonni&rc were shot down. Cavalry regiments followed by infantry 
(for the army stood firm for Louis-Napoleon) charged down the 
.contested streets and the stains of blood left on the cobbles that day 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 353 

were to be the last souvenirs of the enraged Republican spirit in France 
for nineteen years. Victor Hugo, who was abroad early and in immi- 
nent danger of his life from the Bonapartists, witnessed his ideal 
France crashing down in blood and dust and shame. Before Jonvin's 
glove shop there was a pile of corpses, among them an old gentleman 
still clutching his umbrella and a youth with a monocle in his eye. 
The Maison Doree, the Cafe Anglais, and the Cafe de Paris, once 
centers of defiant propaganda, were raked by the fire of the troops. 
A little boy running into a toy-shop was shot down on a heap of toys. 
Eight black-nosed cannon were wheeled into position before the carpet 
warehouse of Sallandrouze. M. Piquet, a seventy-year-old doctor, was 
shot as he sat reading in his drawing room. Jolivard, the painter, 
standing before his easel, crashed to the floor with a bullet in his skull. 
Boyer, the chemist, was bayonetted by the lancers as he lounged 
behind his counter. Before the Theatre des Varietes lay fifty-two 
corpses, eleven women among them, pathetic reminders of how kings 
come to their thrones and dynasties are changed. Through this 
horror passed Victor Hugo, pale and despairing, with the agitated 
Juliette Drouet in search of him. In a few days it was all over; the 
bodies were carried away; the blood was washed from the grey stones; 
and the waxen-lidded Prince-President observed Paris lying in the 
hollow of his hand, A furtive-eyed and nervous man in the garments 
of a lower-class otwricr hurried through the station at Brussels on the 
fourteenth of the month. It was Victor Hugo fleeing from the city 
he would not see again until 1870. December twentieth a popular 
plebiscite approved the drastic gesture of the Coup d'fitat by 7,439,216 
votes. 

Louis-Napoleon was thankful. On the first day of 1852 a solemn 
Te Deum was celebrated at Notre Dame de Paris, a service expressing 
gratitude to God that France had been saved for a Bonaparte. There 
was a thick fog over the city and hoar-frost armored the slender trees 
in the parks. There were grey-green slabs of ice in the Seine. In the 
Place du Parvis before the ancient cathedral there were lines of troops, 
their standards snapping in the chilly air above them. From the 
Invalides the cannon could be heard firing ten reverberating shots 
for each million of votes that sanctioned the Coup d'tat. Above the 
carved portal of Notre Dame hung a great red tapestry with the total 



354 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

vote embroidered in gleaming letters of gold. Flags. Banners, Ori- 
flammes. The tambours rolled when Louis-Napoleon, clad in the 
uniform of a general of division, entered the cathedral followed by 
the sly Magnan and the obsequious de Saint-Arnaud. He had achieved 
his purpose; he knew that the next step was simple. The second of 
December had been his Eighteenth Brumaire. Had he not prepared 
for this gesture during the past three years by shackling the press, 
suppressing antagonistic and liberal associations, corrupting the army 
(where already they were shouting, "Vive I'Empereurl"), and pro- 
pitiating the powerful Church Party? It was unfortunate that General 
Changarnier had never received his order from the slow-moving 
French patriots and put the ambitious Prince-President in a panier & 
saladc and driven him to the Fortress de Vincennes without delay. 
But General Changarnier, on this day of rejoicing, was being trans- 
ferred to the Fortress of Ham (where once Louis-Napoleon had cooled 
his own heels) and with Changarnier were Cavaignac, Le Flo, 
Lamoriciere, Bedeau and Charras. At the same time Louis-Napoleon 
made a gesture. He liberated great numbers of Republican prisoners 
(men caught in the dragnet of the night between the first and second 
of December) from the Fortresses of Mazas, Vincennes, and Mont- 
Valerien; unfortunately, however, they were all lesser individualities 
and not capable of disturbing demonstrations against the dictator. 
Even the release of Thiers from Versailles and the permission accorded 
him to return to Paris meant little. 

Where was Dumas during all this excitement? Was he behind the 
barricades in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine or bearing a musket in the 
Faubourg Poissoniere? Was he in the shoving mass of spectators on 
the Place du Parvis when Louis-Napoleon thanked God for placing 
France in his eager hands? He was in neither place for the year 1851 
had been a period of exasperation and mental horror to him and he 
had lived through it fighting his own losing campaign with fortune 
and ill-disposed to quarrel for France or a Bonaparte. He was like a 
negro slave fleeing through a swamp and pursued by howling blood- 
hounds. The swamp was Paris. Wherever he set his foot the ground 
gave treacherously. The howling bloodhounds were importunate 
bailiffs. If he stopped at all during this troublesome flight it was to 
laugh for that was the one thing that misfortune could not steal away 



THE KING OF ROMANCE 355 

from him. Whether he was on the crest of the wave or in the trough 
of a muttering sea his ebulliency remained unimpaired. Before the 
Coup d*tat he had made a few last desperate bids for success. In 
April he had witnessed the presentation of his La Barrtirc dc Clichy, a 
spectacular military melodrama calculated to please the Prince-Presi- 
dent, at the Theatre National, but its success had been small. During 
April and May the third and fourth parts of his huge dramatization 
of Monte Cristo, Le Comte dc Morcerf and Villefort, had been pro- 
duced at the Ambigu-Comiquc. Scanty audiences who had already 
forgotten the first two parts of Uontc Cristo, viewed it disdainfully 
and turned away toward other things. Monte Cristo belonged to the 
era of Louis-Philippe. Dumas saw that his predicament was extreme. 
Dust gathered on the empty seats of the The&tre-Historique and the 
statue of the Arts gazed woefully across the Boulevard du Temple. 
At Marly-le-Roi a dismantled chateau was knocked down at auction 
to the highest bidder and the outrageous edifice into which the reck- 
less proprietor had poured hundreds of thousands of francs was sold 
for but little more than thirty thousand. Jugurtha, the misanthropical 
vulture, who had been purchased as a curiosity by the owner of the 
hotel at Saint-Germain, grew grey and philosophical as he observed 
the indecent divagations of fortune. If he mused at all he must have 
thought with a grim pleasure that the indignity suffered by him when 
he had been driven like a turkey down the hot road to Stora had 
been wiped out by the subsequent indignities heaped upon his unfor- 
tunate master. The glory of Monte Cristo had departed. Dumas, then, 
was too absorbed in his own misfortunes to take any active part in 
the Coup d'fitat. Unlike Hugo, he did not possess the integrity of 
fanaticism. Besides, the memory of his unfortunate career as a poli- 
tician during 1848 must have rankled still in his bosom. It was better 
to keep away, to hide one's self in the excitement and so avoid process- 
servers, bailiffs, creditors and the humiliations of defeat, 

He still functioned after the Coup d'fitat, however, for on December 
thirtieth, twenty-eight days after the destruction of the Second Repub- 
lic, Le Vampire, a fantastic drama by Dumas and Maquet, was pro- 
duced at the Ambigu-Comique, The role of the mystic fairy Mflusinc 
was played by a charming young actress named Isabelle Constant who 
had also made an appearance in La Barrtire de Clichy. Once again 



35 6 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

the spell of bright eyes was upon Dumas and his fatherly interest }n 
this girl soon developed into a more intimate relation. Lc Vampire 
was the last acknowledged offering made by Dumas to the Parisian 
stage before he became an exile from the city. It was curious. When 
he first came to Paris to live he had gone to a play called Lc Vampire 
and there, sitting beside him and reading an Elzevir, he had met 
Charles Nodier; and now, twenty-seven years later, he witnessed a 
play of his own on the same subject that was, in some measure, the 
period set by Time to his career- Between those two dramas rested 
the great arc of his adventurous days. He had but little more to give 
Paris. He was fleeing before the furies now and his acquaintance saw 
little of him. During 1852 he disappeared from the public whirl. 
Once he protested from Brussels about an unauthorized dramatization 
of Ascanio. Had he settled there by that time? Meanwhile, the star 
of Louis-Napoleon rose and shone brightly and the political phenomena 
of the year were decisive. On March twenty-ninth the Dictatorship 
was terminated when the Chamber met in the Salle des Marechaux 
at the Tuileries and on November seventh the Senate announced that 
the imperial dignity had been reestablished in the persons of Louis- 
Napoleon Bonaparte and his heirs male. On November twenty-fifth 
the corps legislates declared the vote that made Louis-Napoleon 
Emperor. There were 7,824,129 ayes to 253,149 noes. During the night 
of December first Louis-Napoleon received the crown of France at 
Saint-Cloud and the following morning, exactly one year after the 
Coup d'&tat, he rode from Saint-Cloud to the Tuileries while the can- 
non roared, the banners waved, and the military bands played Partant 
pour la Syrie. It was as good a time as any to finally flee from this 
remorseless city that, except for implacable creditors, had completely 
forgotten him; so Dumas packed away a few precious remnants from 
his days of grandeur, turned his business affairs an incomprehensible 
and apparently hopeless puzzle over to a wise little Jew named 
Hirschler, and bade farewell to Paris. Gathering what cash he could 
for immediate expenses and taking with him a tiny negro lad that 
"the little Dorval" had once brought to him for a page, he boarded 
the train for Brussels. Behind him was wreckage; before him was 
nothing but his vigor and a determination to retrieve his fallen 
fortunes. . 



CHAPTER FIVE 

THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 



WHEN Dumas and his little negro Alexis walked out of the station 
at Brussels in Belgium the snarling trumpets of the new Emperor, 
Napoleon III, were still vibrating along the quais of the Seine. They 
heralded more than the change of a dynasty. They were the brazen 
annunciators of a new era in letters, in drama, in art, and in the deli- 
cate task of living. Romanticism was really dead. It had been in its 
final agonies ever since the debacle of Victor Hugo's Lcs Burgravcs 
in 1843, and the nine years that had elapsed were no more than a long 
rattle in a gasping throat that had once been as sonorous as the trum- 
pets of "the Dutchman. The polished boots of the Second Empire 
had stepped over a lintel whereon lay the dessicatcd but still feebly 
twitching body of Hernani. From the safe haven of the grey city of 
Brussels Dumas could gaze back at the monstrous changes that were 
taking place, at the gradual transformation of a city that had been 
the bourgeois capital of a bourgeois King for eighteen years and the 
uncertain fantasia of a Prince-President for three years. Now it was 
to be the seat of an upstart Emperor, the center of European gaiety 
to which all the crowned heads of the continent were to come, the 
astonishing playground of expositions and galas, of extravagant beds 
and operas and gambling and reckless women. Dumas did not pause 
long to brood upon Paris, but adjusted himself as quickly as possible 
to his new surroundings. He was penniless; he had no collaborators; 
it was necessary that he write furiously if he were to pay off the 
mountainous debts he had left behind, live with that degree of extrava- 
gance upon which he thrived and make possible in the not too distant 
future a triumphant return to the French metropolis. It was pleasant 

357 



358 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

to indicate, never directly, that one was in exile because of political 
reasons, for that sounded so much finer than to confess that one was 
hiding from one's creditors. It placed one on a level with Victor 
Hugo, for example. Since August the Sun-God had been thundering 
from Jersey against Napoleon-le-Petit and his chdtiments had been the 
delight of the dispersed Republicans. But the more malleable nature 
of Dumas demurred at a definite exile that would make his return 
to Paris impossible until the Emperor finally fell from his throne. 
After all, he was primarily a writer, a novelist, a poet, a dramatist, 
and only secondarily a publicist and propagandist. He thrived upon 
the Parisian scene, and even before the newness of his exile in Brussels 
had worn away he was longing for the flesh-pots of the capital. What 
restaurants! What women! What gaiety! The realization of this 
desire would mean uninterrupted labors and he set himself to them 
immediately. 

Settled at 73, Boulevard Waterloo, he began to write. His dwelling 

was not a second Monte Cristo, but it was a fairly luxuriously 

appointed house well adapted to the entertainment of the horde of 

French exiles who crowded the Belgian city. These men came and 

went, ate enormously and drank excessively; but Dumas, in his attic 

at the top of the house, labored through the racket and piled up sheet 

after sheet of blue paper covered with his even handwriting. One 

among these exiles who drifted to the Boulevard Waterloo proved to 

be a god-send. Noel Parfait, a former representative of the people 

and a friend of Victor Hugo, had been proscribed some time before. 

Penniless, separated from his wife and family by the decree of the 

Emperor, Parfait made the Boulevard Waterloo house his second 

home, and it was not long before he was installed as a member of 

the family and acting as secretary to Dumas. Parfait was conscientious, 

strict, observant, thrifty, a buffer between Dumas and his sponging 

friends, and soon these friends, disapproving of the tactics of the new 

secretary, referred to him as Jamais Content. He was a bore and a 

tribulation to them. Why did not Dumas get rid of this death's head 

at the joyous feast? Dumas smiled to himself. "Jamais Content' 

Parfait remained, and order evolved itself out of the chaos of the 

household. The new secretary managed the menage, held the purse, 

became an inexorable minister of finance to Dumas, checked all 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 359 

domestic waste, indicated methods of retrenchment, settled the bills 
regularly, fought with dishonest servants and drove sharp bargains 
with the sly tradespeople. He watched the wine cellar and saw that 
it was not completely gulped down by visitors. He forced Dumas to 
pay immediately for any purchases, books or pictures or clothing, 
that he became liable for. The result was that while there were no 
debts neither was there any money in the cash-box. Even Dumas 
became irritated and complained: "Here for the last six months I 
have had an honest man in my house, and upon my soul I have never 
been so badly off in my life!" Yet Noel Parfait was an excellent addi- 
tion to 73, Boulevard Waterloo, and Dumas knew it. 

"Jamais Content'' acted as a copying secretary as well as treasurer 
to Dumas, and he accomplished a formidable amount of work. During 
the months he assisted Dumas he made four copies one each for 
Belgium, Germany, England and America of the original scripts of 
Les Memoires, Ingenue, Une Vie d' Artiste, Conscience I'lnnocent, 
Le Pasteur d'Ashbourn, Le Page du Due de Savoie, Catherine Blum, 
Isaac Laqucdem, Le Sdteador, Le Capitaine Richard, La Corntesse de 
Charny, and of three plays, La Conscience, La Jeunesse de Louis XIV 
and Les Gardes Forestiers. In the widely spaced Cadot edition of the 
works of Dumas this would correspond roughly to nearly four hun- 
dred volumes. Parfait, like his master, was a demon of energy. Every 
day the two men would mount to the attic where they were safe from 
the innumerable visitors, and there they would sit for the greater part 
of the day, each writing furiously. Hours would pass without a word. 
Dumas was working against time, to settle his debts, to make possible 
his return to Paris; Parfait was laboring for his food and lodging 
with a fine integrity that more than paid for them. The pens scratched 
ceaselessly; the copy was despatched to five countries; the drafts were 
cashed and applied on old debts. Back in Paris Hirschler, the admir- 
able little Semite, was doing all that he could to compound Dumas's 
debts. There was a bed in this attic-studio, and occasionally, in the 
middle of a sentence, Dumas would stand up, stretch, walk over to 
the couch and fling himself upon it, falling asleep as soon as his bushy 
head hit the pillow. In fifteen or twenty minutes he would rise, 
thoroughly refreshed, and resume his composition. He put down the 
material that poured out of his mind with a rushing speed, aever 



360 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

stopping to indicate periods, commas and paragraphs. That was 
Parfait's function. Receiving the paper still wet with ink, the secretary 
would arrange the material into its finished form. In this way an 
enormous amount of work came out of 73, Boulevard Waterloo. 

The ingenuity of Dumas was never better manifested than during 
this long season of travail in Belgium. He had no collaborators, no 
nosing jackals of letters to run down his themes for him, no anxious 
young men tumbling their tentative efforts upon his lintel so that he 
might pick them up and translate them into that smoothly flowing 
procession of narratives that was his peculiar product. All that he did 
he had to do by himself. And first of all he turned to his own life, 
to that surprising and sometimes ridiculous series of forays against 
fortune, and began to recapture it in bubbling chapters which vividly 
resurrected the past. Indeed it was time to recapitulate, to turn back 
and cast up the long disorderly account. Was he not fifty years old and 
a man who from his twenty-first year had been an integral portion of 
the creative life of the French nation? What did it all mean? What 
had he accomplished? From the isolated vantage point of Brussels 
he could gaze back at a score of years and strive to elucidate the pat- 
tern of his existence. He would write about it. He would relate these 
astounding episodes one to the other. He did not see his life steadily 
nor did he see it whole; it was rather through the golden veils of 
vanity that he perceived the miraculous career that was his own. Yet 
who could draw the dividing line between his vanity and his sincerity? 
Not he; not any idle reader; his audience would have to accept his 
enlargement, often as unconscious as it was deliberate, of the perturbed 
and gusty progress of his days. So in the high attic at 73, Boulevard 
Waterloo, Brussels, with the faithful Noel Parfait by his side, he began 
to set down the long tragi-comedy of his life, interlarding it with 
multitudinous sketches of the men he had known and the events 
through which he had passed. Mes MJtnoires ran to ten volumes; it 
was dedicated to the honorable Comte Alfred d'Orsay, "my fellow- 
craftsman and my bosom friend n ; it was one of the most meaty works 
the volatile and self-dramatizing creator had ever conceived; and it 
assumed its important position among the revelatory documents of 
the nineteenth century. 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 361 

Simultaneously with this extended work (which, as a matter of 
fact, he did not finish until he had returned to France, and which, 
unfortunately, he did not carry beyond the year 1832) other labors 
proceeded. He would write the story of the wandering Jew, for 
example, carrying the career of that lost soul through the centuries, 
but Isaac Laquedem was suppressed after the second volume by the 
shocked censors of "the Dutchman" with the waxed imperial, and 
the announced thirty volumes never materialized. Then there was 
Ingenue, an amusing work which started as a serial in Le Sticle but 
was stopped by the indignant descendants of that Restif de la Bretonne 
who had written Monsieur Nicolas, ou le Coeur Humain Devoile and 
La Vie de Mon Phe. There were Le Capitaine Richard and Le Pas- 
teur d'Ashbourn, the last a tale manifestly paraphrased from some 
forgotten English or German story. Anything at all was welcome 
fish that swam into this avid net stretched in the attic of the Belgian 
house. The prodigious fisherman thought of that fitienne Melingue 
who had created d'Artagnan on the lost stage of the Theatre-His- 
torique and the result was Une Vie d' Artiste, an account of the early 
struggles of the handsome actor whom the little Dorval had discov- 
ered at Rouen. An idle reading of Iff land's Gardes Forestiers aroused 
memories of Villers-Cotterets and the life of the foresters in the sur- 
rounding woodland, and Catherine Blurn trickled from the ceaseless 
pen. The abrupt finish to Ange Pitou occasioned by the diminishing 
interest in the feuilleton disturbed Dumas; there was no link between 
that book and Le Chevalier de Maison-Rougc and too many of the 
characters had been left hanging indecisively between heaven and 
hell; therefore the omission would have to be remedied. Le Comtesse 
de Charny was the result, a full length novel which demonstrated 
emphatically that Dumas could continue his M&moire$ d'un Medecin 
series without the aid even of the meticulous Maquet. Some gossip 
of a Belgian writer occasioned another novel, Conscience I'Innocent, 
a charming book that owes something to Hendrik Conscience's 
Le Consent. Le Page du Due de Savoie, written during this period, 
is more mysterious. Was Paul Meurice the author of this work, as 
he was of Les Deux Dianes, or did he write from a plot that Dumas 
had outlined ? There are certain touches in this book that are obviously 
from the vast creative well of Dumas. Perhaps Meurice, after writing 



362 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

from the suggestions of the older man, sent on his script for revision 
and rewriting and Dumas made it his own. There was Lc Salvador 
which Dumas later disowned but which probably was conceived with 
the aid of some unknown assistant. Plays as well as novels were 
written in this hive of an attic. There was La Conscience which 
Dumas dedicated to Victor Hugo, inscribing: "Receive it as the testi- 
mony of a friendship which has survived exile and will, I trust, survive 
even death. I believe in the immortality of the soul." Then there was 
La Jeunesse de Louis XIV, dedicated to the faithful Noel Parfait as 
a ''souvenir d'exil." And there was Les Gardes Forestiers, a dramati- 
zation of Catherine Blum. The sun shone on Brussels and the rain 
fell upon the grey stone buildings; processions, both religious and lay, 
passed through the narrow streets, and trumpets blew in the grassy 
squares; but the assiduous pen in the attic at 73, Boulevard Waterloo, 
did not falter. Every completed page brought the writer that much 
nearer Paris. 

All this assiduity nevertheless left Dumas some time for pleasure 
when he might entertain his friends or wander about the city. There 
were casual appearances at the playhouses when he impressed his 
presence upon the audiences by noisy applause. There were evenings 
of small talk with the congregated exiles. Once there was a gorgeous 
supper party where the guests reveled until dawn in the surprises 
prepared by their host, Spanish dancers in flamboyant shawls, singers 
of old French chansons and tirades by famous actors, unexpected plays 
on a lilliputian stage hastily erected. There was sparkling conversa- 
tion, the popping of champagne corks and extraordinary foods pre- 
pared from rare recipes, fimile Deschanel described the armorial 
escutcheons of Chateaubriand (dead), Lamartine (forgotten), Hugo 
(in exile), Nodier (dead), and Dumas himself (neither dead nor 
forgotten but waiting his hour of release from a foreign land) which 
hung upon the walls of the decorated salons. Through the gathering 
of gay men and women passed the form of "Jamats Content" Parfait 
watching to see that the champagne was not wasted and that no 
thoughtless visitors walked away with material souvenirs of the 
evening. 

During this period the little Semite Hirschler was accomplishing 
wonders in Paris. With the ingenuity of a born diplomat he engi- 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 363 

necred favorable settlements of the long array of Dumas's debts, paid 
so many sous upon the franc, made promises, attended to the drafts 
sent to Paris by the wise Parfait, and one bright day forwarded the 
welcome news to Dumas that it would be safe for him to return to 
Paris. It was like a release from prison. The long labors in the Boule- 
vard Waterloo ceased and an excited French author ran for the train. 
One fortune had been lost but it was still possible to make another. 
Perhaps a magazine? He was returning to Paris as empty-handed as 
d'Artagnan. Very well. Let the magazine be called Le Mousquetaire. 
Late in September, 1853, Dumas stepped from a cabriolet in the Place 
Louvois and entered the little hotel where he was to live for some 
time while recovering his lost ascendency. The great sea of Paris 
roared about him once more and his spirits were enlivened. 

II 

In Paris there were both rejoicing and chagrin. The friends of 
Dumas greeted his reappearance with merry satisfaction, but the 
enemies, the clique that had sneered and hissed at "this negro," were 
silenced by the bitter disappointment of the writer's return. They 
had imagined him finished, worn out, cast aside, driven from the 
city, and here he was, larger than ever, gayer, carrying fresh bundles 
of manuscript beneath his arm, negotiating with editors, printers and 
paper firms, raising funds in miraculous ways and confidently estab- 
lishing himself as the proprietor and editor of an impossible periodical. 
It was inconceivable. This man was like Antaeus; the harder he was 
flung to earth the stronger he rose. The object of this bitterness strode 
blithely along the boulevards and turned a wide smiling face toward 
the disconcerted jackals. He heard the belittling prophecies. "It is 
impossible that such a preposterous undertaking as this proposed 
journal de A/. Alexandra Dumas will live." "Merci, messieurs! 9 
responded Dumas, "Le Mousquetaire will live precisely because it is 
impossible." Unperturbed by evil prophecies and sanguine for the 
future, he proceeded to organize his journal. It would be a personal 
organ; everything would be entertaining and intimate; politics would 
be eschewed. There were enough suppressed periodicals and proscribed 
patriots. No, Le Mousquetaire would offer causeries on literature and 



364 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

art, short stories, poems, novels, essays, personal items, and above all 
Alexandra Dumas en manches de chemise. There would be reverent 
genuflections to the great writers of the immediate past, Nodier, 
Chateaubriand and Lamartine. Editorial quarters were secured, two 
small ground floor rooms in the courtyard of the Maison d'Or oppo- 
site the savoury smelling restaurant of Verdier, and a tiny chamber 
on the third floor where the master might sit before a pine table 
and write. Assistants were engaged, young men such as Alfred 
Asseline, Philibert Audebrand, Aurelien Scholl and Henri Conscience; 
and the first issue of Le Mousquetaire appeared on November 12, 1853. 
In every cafe it was eagerly perused. 

Fantasia of Le Mousquetaire. 

It was to be expected that any undertaking by Dumas should 
develop into a bedlam and this magazine was no exception. All Paris 
flowed into the courtyard of the Maison d'Or, burst past Michel, the 
ex-gardener at Monte Cristo and now the hypothetical cashier of 
Le Mousquetaire, streamed through the business office where no busi- 
ness was ever transacted, crowded the dark little room where the 
"archives" were kept and pushed by the indignant business manager, 
Martinet, into the editorial room, a fireless chamber where the young 
"regulars" strove to write amidst a babble of voices. Actors, painters, 
sculptors, musicians, curiosity-seekers, down-at-the-heels authors, jour- 
nalists, long-haired poets and crafty-eyed spongers arrived early and 
stayed late. All races were represented, Latins, Slavs, Germans, Afri- 
cans, Hebrews from Mont Sinai, Catholic mystics from Italy and 
turbanned Mussulmen. The incessant hub-bub shook the windows of 
the surrounding houses. M. Alexandri, a Moldavian boyar, who lived 
in the court, ran to his window constantly and exclaimed, "I think 
they are slaughtering somebody out there!" Another neighbor, not 
less startled but with a sense of humor, would reply: "There is prob- 
ably a woman suffering from pangs of child-birth in the courtyard." 
Verdier alone, the owner of the restaurant opposite, was undisturbed. 
He stood before his door rubbing his plump hands together delight- 
edly and saying, "The police can no longer pretend that there is too 
much noise in my restaurant. I will send them to listen to Le Mous- 
quetaire." Dumas, in his small third floor office, would lift his head 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 365 

from his copy when some particularly tempestuous outburst rose from 
the court, spring up in a fury from his chair, rush to the balcony and 
shout, "What the devil are they doing? Cutting each other's throats?" 
It was nothing more than ten poets, five novelists, twenty-five critics, 
some fantaisistes and a few general writers shrilly recommencing the 
dialogues of Plato in the heart of the business district of Louis- 
Napoleon's Paris. 

Comparative peace reigned in the third floor office, and here only 
was any real work done. Dumas, seated at his pine table, covered 
sheet after sheet of paper. The room was as bare as the cell of a 
cenobite. There were no ornaments, pictures or statues, nothing but 
the pine table covered with a red cloth, three cane chairs and a tiny 
Etruscan vase holding a single flower. Dumas, meagerly clothed even 
in winter, bare-chested and bare-armed, bowed his crinkly head over 
the blue paper and wrote, wrote of anything at all; and when he ran 
out of ideas he would walk in the courtyard with some friend or 
wander along the nearby streets and gaze through windows, read 
signboards or watch pedestrians. Out of thin air would come an idea 
and back he would go to his "nest of serpents," as he called his offices, 
and spin it into an engaging causerie. Guarding the third floor study 
was Rusconi, the little Italian who had once been with General 
Dermoncourt and whom Dumas had taken into his service a long 
time before. Rusconi was a faithful factotum. He blacked Dumas's 
boots, wrote some of his letters for him and introduced the visiteuses 
to the private office. He worshipped Dumas. In his broken accent 
he would say: "Listen well. I saw Napoleon Bonaparte in Elba when 
I was a commissaire de police; I saw Madame la Duchesse de Berry at 
Nantes at the moment of her arrest when I was secretary to General 
Dermoncourt; and I see M. Alexandre Dumas every day. Conse- 
quently I flatter myself with having been close to the three greatest 
personages of this century." In spite of the precautions taken to isolate 
himself, Dumas could never refrain from interrupting his work when 
some old acquaintance appeared, and during the few years that 
Le Mousquctairc existed a heterogenous procession of people, some 
known to all of France and others indistinguishable ciphers, passed 
through the door of the Maison d'Or above which was written: 
"Le public n'entrc fas id." 



366 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

The procession was unusual and sometimes amusing. There was 
that excellent rogue, Roger de Beauvoir, twirling his cane and scat- 
tering mots. The pale figure of Gerard de Nerval, escaped for the 
moment from Doctor Blanche's insane asylum, tramped up the three 
flights of stairs. Young Octave Feuillet, already known to the theater- 
goers of Paris, brought in some bright article. There was Mery, fresh 
from Marseilles and bursting with amusing tales. He was growing 
older now; there was a wintry touch of grey in his long hair, but his 
ardour was undiminshed. Theophile Gautier, his once slim form 
grown portly and his rose-colored gilet laid away with his memories, 
was another visitor who recalled the past, the bright days when all 
the world seemed to hang in the balance of the uncertain premiere 
of Hcrnani. Theodore de Banville, the sophisticated rhymster and 
friend of Charles Baudelaire, came to submit verses, and perhaps to 
speak of those strange Fleurs du Mai his friend was writing. Emile 
Deschamps, the great fimile who was a kind of ancestor of the new 
generation, appeared often, a red ribbon in his button-hole and pale 
gloves in his aged hand. The aura of the almost legendary Cenacle 
hovered about him. Dumas would rush delightedly toward this 
veteran of the Romantic days, crying, "Unc bonne rtvtrence h mon 
iLmile, messieurs!" Another frequent visitor was the Vicomtesse de 
Saint-Mars, better known under her nom-de-plume, Comtesse Dash, 
a wise and worldly woman of uncertain age and rotund figure who 
laughed at her Dumas but exhibited a sincere affection for him. 
Meyerbeer, the composer, might be found deep in conversation with 
Madame de Girardin, formerly Delphine Gay, the tenth muse, but 
now an old and ailing woman. That ancient Royalist, Jules de Saint- 
Felix, was another familiar figure in the courtyard of the Maison d'Or. 
He, it was rumored, had been a page to Louis XVIII, and it was 
certain that he had been in the entourage of Charles X in 1830. He 
had written a romance called CUopatrc, but it had not been a success, 
and now in the winter of his days he was reduced to living by means 
of hack writing. Still another visitor was Adolphe Dupeuty, "un gros 
garfon, la figure bouffie, de large* fyaules" who gathered bits of 
theatrical news and gossip for Le Mousquetaire. Nor must Privat 
d'Anglemont, a huge mulatto from the Antilles, be forgotten. Erratic 
and Bohemian in his tendencies, he managed to eke out a meager 




EMILE DESCHAMPS 

He was one of the instigators of the 
R o man tic M o s vem en t 




SAINTE-BEUVE 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 367 

living by free-lance journalism. There were Paul Bocage, the nephew 
of the great actor; Alexandre Weill, author of Couronne; Jules Viard, 
the future creator of the cho$ in Le Figaro; Pierre Bernard, once 
secretary to Armand Carrel; Eugene Moreau, a retired actor who had 
translated Gogol's Dead Souls; Henri de la Madelene, Eugene 
Woestyn, young Henri Rochefort: personalities who took their places 
large or small in the eternally shifting pantheon of French letters. 
During the first year of its existence the contributors to Le Mousquc- 
taire, besides those enumerated above, included Alexandre Dumas fils, 
Alfred Asseline, Casimir Daumas, Georges Bell, Leon Gatayes, 
Aurelien Scholl, Gaston de Saint-Valry, A. Desbarolles, Alfred Bas- 
quet Amedee Marteau, Comte Max de Goritz, E. Nevire, J. Nevire, 
Foulgues, Eimann, C. Bernis, Maurice Sand, A. de la Fizeliere, 
Madame Adele Esquiros, Madame Celina Ravier and Madame 
Clemence Badere. Two of these contributors, Comte de Goritz and 
Madame Clemence Badere, deserve further mention. 

Comte Max de Goritz, well-built, nervous, with blond mustaches, 
first appeared at the Maison d'Or as "translator extraordinary" to 
Dumas. He purported to be a Hungarian nobleman, and people 
whispered that once he had acted as aide-de-camp to Kossuth. His 
charming wife, it was also whispered, was the daughter of the Due 
de Richemont, pretender to the French throne, and grand-daughter 
of Marie Antoinette. For a brief period the comte made daily appear- 
ances at Le Mousquetairc where he translated any promising matter 
from German papers that might appeal to Dumas. He was gentle- 
manly, aristocratic in manner, educated. Philibert Audebrand, one 
of the junior editors of Le Mousquctairc, charmed by the folitesse 
of the mysterious comte, appeared often in his company, dined at his 
quarters and beamed upon the languid Madame la Comtesse. One 
day Urbain Pages, who had replaced Martinet as business manager 
of Le Mousquctaire, sat down beside Audebrand. "Are you disposed 
to listen to some advice?" he inquired. "Go on," said Audebrand. 
"You have some inclination to continue your intimacy with Max de 
Goritz?" "That is true." "Well, believe me when I urge you not to 
push things too far." The junior editor asked why. "For several 
reasons," replied Fag&s, "and decidedly the first one is that no one 
knows who he is." Audebrand insisted that he did know who 



368 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

de Goritz was and that Dumas himself patronized him. "Bast!" 
retorted Pages, "That fellow is neither a comte nor a political refugee. 
He is a German adventurer, a Semite named Mayer, and he is guilty 
of a dozen crimes." "But Alexandre Dumas wrote a dedication in 
one of his books to the wife of this man and gave her the title of 
comtesse in it," protested Audebrand. "Don't you know," Pages 
remarked, "that when there is a pretty woman in view our illustrious 
writer is capable of anything?" It was true. A few days later the 
Parisian police were in search of Comte Max de Goritz who had 
slipped out of Paris. At the Maison d'Or the affair caused a sensation 
which was revived some weeks later when news came that the indus- 
trious adventurer was using the name of Dumas to obtain money 
fraudulently from various sources in the South of France. 

The case of Madame Clemence Badere was both pathetic and amus- 
ing. She was an intense and humorless creature in whose bosom 
fluttered a sentimental desire for the Ideal. Leaving her dull and 
pragmatic husband in the provinces, she came to Paris obsessed with 
an ambition to make a place for herself in letters. It was natural for 
her to gravitate toward Le Mousquetctire; all freaks found their way 
to the Maison d'Or sooner or later. Dumas, therefore, was faced one 
morning by a rhapsodic woman in spectacles who offered him a short 
story entitled Les Aventures d'un Camilla et d'un Volubilis. He 
accepted it graciously; he accepted all things graciously from women 
whether they were old and ugly or young and pulchritudinous. But 
after Madame Badere had bared her quivering soul to Dumas's sensi- 
tive ear and departed, he peeped into the manuscript, smiled to him- 
self and carefully put it away in the bottom of the furthest drawer. 
It was atrocious. It was a series of barbarisms and amateurish pap. 
Perhaps Dumas hoped that this would be the last of Cl&nence Bad&re, 
that she would return to her father, the hatter of Vendome, or to her 
husband. But the bespectacled muse was of a more persistent caliber. 
Now that she was "launched in literature" she made it a point to 
appear often at the Maison d'Or, to take the bewildered Michel into 
her confidence, to pour the yearnings of her heart out to Rusconi and 
to inquire for Monsieur Dumas. Dumas was always invisible. He 
saw her coming from a distance and fled to the privacy of his third- 
floor office Madame Badere's persistency had its reward, however. 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 369 

or wearied with her importunities, Dumas reluctantly disgorged the 
ivcnturcs d'un Camtlia ct d'un Volubilis from the drawer and printed 
:. But in printing it he revised it extensively and wrote a new intro- 
luction to it. This was a blow to the pride of the author; she saw 
he delicate child of her brain mangled and torn beyond resemblance, 
n a series of letters they would be called highfaluting today she 
lemanded that the tale be reprinted in its original form. Dumas, 
ntertained with these curious documents, promptly printed them in 
tie correspondence columns of Lc Mousquctairc. Madame Badere 
etaliated by securing a sheriff's officer who enjoined Dumas to reprint 
he story as the author had conceived it This was too much for 
Dumas, who lost his temper. He printed the first version, but with 
11 the barbarisms underlined. The victim of this humiliation ran 
rom lawyer to lawyer, from sheriff's officer to sheriff's officer, but 
ould get no redress. The officers of the law would have nothing to 
lo with her. Perhaps they had read her story. Then the irate woman 
at down and aimed a shot at Dumas. It appeared in the form of a 
lamphlet, Lc Soldi Alcxandre Dumas, and it made a bitter com- 
arison between the rays of the sun and the collaborators of Dumas, 
laving fired her shot the lady of the spectacles disappeared, and some 
aeasure of peace was restored at the Maison d'Or, 

The career of Lc Mousquctairc was as beset by financial difficulties 
s it was by chattering friends and importunate contributors. There 
ras never any money in the cash-box, and from the beginning the 
usiness manager led a life calculated to drive a sane brain into gib- 
Bering idiocy. Martinet, who held this position for the first two 
aonths, almost perished from the strain. It was in vain that he 
lounted the three flights of stairs with long overdue bills in his hand. 
)umas would wave him away with, "What do I keep you for? Pay 
be people and don't bother me." The perplexed Martinet, looking 
s though he had just fallen from a horse, would stutter, "Pay them! 
tut, chcr mdtrc> there is no money in the cash-box." "No money!" 
)uinas would roar, "What has become of die new subscriptions that 
amc in this morning?" Martinet would answer, "It hasn't been ten 
akiutcs since you took three hundred frajncs out of the castabox for 
our personal requirements." The reply of Dumas would be magnifi- 



37 o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

cent, "Three hundred francs! What is that? Why the copy I have 
written today for the paper would have brought me four times that 
amount from La Presse or Le Sticle!" Martinet would stagger down 
the stairs to fence as best he could with the creditors. 

Both Polydore Millaud and Villemessant, hearing of the waste and 
disorder in the offices of Le Mousquetaire, offered to associate them- 
selves with the periodical, for their experience convinced them that 
a great success might be made of the venture, but Dumas wanted no 
partners. To Villemessant he wrote: "My dearest comrade, what you 
and that heart of gold, Millaud, have proposed is admirable, and I 
have no doubt would succeed. But the dream of my whole life has 
been to have a journal of my own, entirely my own. This object I 
have now attained, and I calculate that the very least it can bring me 
in will be a million a year. I have not yet withdrawn a sou from the 
receipts for my articles, a sum which at forty sous the line, by this 
time represents two hundred thousand francs, earned since starting 
the paper, a sum which I shall leave to increase quietly in stock, so 
that in a month or so I can have four or five hundred thousand francs 
at once. Under these circumstances you will see that I am not in need 
of money or of a manager. Le Mousquetaire is a gold-mine, and I 
mean to work it all myseE Au revoir, my dear friends, I grieve that 
I have only two hands with which to squeeze your four." 

This impossible arithmetic must have made an experienced business 
man like Millaud smile. In point of fact Le Mousquetaire was not 
doing so well. True enough, by the end of two months the circulation 
had been boosted to ten thousand, four thousand of it from regular 
subscribers, but this seems to have been the peak. After that a decline 
set in. Dumas was nevertheless offering uncommonly good fare. 
Mes Mtmoires ran serially throughout the first twelve months, and 
the greater part of the cauteries and special articles were excellent. 
There was life and spirit in the magazine. Dumas, intent on pro- 
curing the best, constantly canvassed his friends, and though many of 
these friends, as forgetful of promises as Dumas himself, failed to 
fulfil their obligations, the general tone of Le Mousquetaire during 
its first season was admirable. 

Heinrich Heine, from his sick bed in the rue d' Amsterdam, eagerly 
awaited each number. Lamartine, from his retreat at Saint-Point, 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 371 

wrote: "I have opinions on things human but not on miracles; you 
are superhuman. The world has sought perpetual motion; you have 
done better you have created perpetual amazement. Farewell; may 
you live, that is, may you write! I am here to read." And from 
Jersey, his island of exile, the Sun-God wrote: "Dear Dumas, I read 
your journal. You restore to us Voltaire. Last consolation for dumb 
down-trodden France. Vale et me ama. Victor Hugo." 

It was not from want of contributors and enthusiastic friends, then, 
that Le Mousquetaire suffered, but rather from the congenital reck- 
lessness and disorderliness of its editor and proprietor. Dumas could 
labor for extended periods with unsubdued fury, but he could not 
systematize expenditures, build up a capital and plan ahead. He 
expected instant results from instant labors. His ideal was the sudden 
coup. Money flowed into the Maison d'Or during its first year, but 
it vanished as rapidly as it appeared. To Dumas a cash-box was a 
convenient place from which money might be extracted for the 
pleasures of life, not a locked coffer wherein to deposit one's profits. 
He was as romantic in business as he was in literature. Because of this 
lack of calculation in financial matters the moneys induced by the 
seductive columns of Le Mousquetaire dissipated like frail morning 
mists. Even the proceeds from the four plays produced during 1854 
were squandered with a magnificent disregard of any bourgeoise 
cautiousness. These productions were: Romulus, a one-act comedy 
Dumas had written in an inn at M61un in 1851 and which was pro- 
duced at the Theatre-Frangais on the thirteenth of January; La Jeun- 
esse de Louis XIV, a comedy in five acts which the Thedtre-Franfais 
had accepted but would not play and which, therefore, had its 
premiere in the Theatre du Vaudeville, Brussels, on the twentieth 
of January; Le Mar brier, a drama in three acts which was presented 
at the Theatre du Vaudeville, Paris, on the twenty-second of May; 
and La Conscience, a five-act drama which had its first presentation 
at the Odon on the fourth of November* Perhaps the proceeds from 
these .plays went toward debts remaining from the wreck of the 
Th^tre-Historique. At any rate, there was no money to show for all 
this activity. So the Jew was always at the portal of the Maison d'Qr, 
the young editors waited in vain for their salaries, but remained never- 



372 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

thcless because the editorial office was such an amusing madhouse, 
and the contributors begged ceaselessly for their overdue payments. 

Ill 

The changing world began to impress itself on Dumas. He realized 
that Paris, shouting about victories in the Crimea and the fall of 
Sebastopol, humming with preparations for the Exposition Univer- 
selle, raising arches for the impending visit of Victoria of England, 
announcing that Nicholas of Russia was dead and that the baleful 
shadow of the Slav had been lifted from Europe, was in process of 
transformation from the dark, sprawling metropolis of Romantic days 
into an international capital of broad boulevards. The realization did 
not depress him but it troubled him. It made him suspect his own 
age. Perhaps he was growing old, after all. Had he not overheard 
remarks about the growing greyness of his bushy hair and the lament- 
able enlargement of his girth? Even his friends were growing old and 
dying. Late in January, 1855, ^ e had been disturbed by the news that 
Gerard de Nerval, "le bon Gfrard" with whom he had wandered 
through Germany, had committed suicide. And in midsummer he 
had followed the body of Delphine Gay, the wife of fimile de Girardin, 
to the cemetery. He no longer saw Alfred de Vigny. Auguste Maquet 
was estranged and meditating a lawsuit against him. Victor Hugo 
had just been expelled from Jersey and had settled on the Isle of 
Guernsey, fimile Deschamps was old and feeble. The specter of 
death gazed out of the worn face of Alfred de Musset. Michelet was 
dreaming of the past in Italy. There were new faces everywhere. 
But if all these sad changes troubled his mind at times, yet he could 
jauntily assert himself in this new milieu. What did it matter whether 
it was the Paris of Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis-Philippe or Napo- 
leon III ? The scene changed but he was the same, eternally gusty, 
eternally boisterous, eternally entertaining* The great days of the 
jemllcton may have gone and an obnoxiously analytical note may 
have crept into the literature of the Empire but he was still the wise 
vulgarisateur, the ever-flowing cornucopia of stories and cauteries, and 
as long as the bourgeoisie existed he would possess his audience. So 
he continued with young Paid Bocagc to spin out the huge shapeless 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 373 

fabric of Lcs Mohicans dc Paris, to pen his cauteries, to enliven bis 
columns with attacks on the yellow-faced Buloz, to advocate various 
philanthropies, to agitate for a monument on the grave of Balzac, and 
to take the pale and sweet Isabel Constant to the races. 

Sometimes he admitted his loneliness to his old friend Delacroix, 
complaining to the sympathetic painter that he no longer saw Alex- 
andre fits who was busy with his own triumphs (Le Demi-Monde was 
running successfully at the Gymnase) and that his daughter, Marie- 
Alexandre, now a tall dark girl of twenty-four, paid very little atten- 
tion to him, although she did appear occasionally at 77, rue d* Amster- 
dam, where he now resided. Another lonely man, the unfortunate 
Heinrich Heine, did desire to see Dumas. He wrote: "But why do 
you not come to see me, my dear Dumas? I understand that you live 
at present in the same rue d' Amsterdam from whence I packed off 
some time ago to settle in the Champs Elyses, 4 Avenue Matignon, 
where you may find me at any hour. It is not far from your house 
and your cabriolet can bring you here in five minutes. Shame upon 
you! While you, young man, delay coming an old fellow of seventy- 
five, who lives in the Marais and who obstinately makes all his jour- 
neys on foot, our illustrious doyen Beranger, came to see me the other 
day in spite of the bad weather. I had not seen Beranger for twenty- 
five years but I found him as alert as a Parisian gamin. A lady, whose 
name you know and who was present during this visit from Beranger, 
marvelled at his excellent appearance, and, when we told her that 
he was seventy-five years old, refused absolutely to believe it and 
insisted that he could be no more than sixty. The response that the 
chansonnier made her diverted me for the whole day; for with a sad 
and sly expression and lingering sweetly on his words he said, 'You 
fool yourself and if you will permit me to give you proof I will con- 
vince you that you are wrong and I am actually my seventy-five 
years.* What a venerable mischievous child!" Dumas went to see 
Heine and the dying poet talked brilliantly from the bed of his 
affliction. He went to the Princcsse Mathilde's salons, and presented 
her with a copy of Les Chfoiments. Sometimes he might be found 
seated on the terrace before Tortoni's, discussing life and letters with 
fimile de Girardin and Gautier and Nestor Roqueplan. But there 
were periods whea he disappeared for days at a time. Where was 



374 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

he? Seated in his third floor office scribbling tales or essays? Or 
meditating new ways of circumventing the growing coldness of 
Louis-Napoleon's Paris? Once he traveled to Brussels and descended 
from the coach before 73, Boulevard Waterloo, his old residence of 
exile which he had retained, and attempted to enter the house; but 
he discovered that it had been re-let and was occupied by a Doctor 
Brayer. He commenced suit against the landlord but desisted when 
he learned that he had never rented from the actual proprietor. Con : 
signing Belgium, Brussels and all the judges to the devil he returned 
to Paris. Dumas's restlessness began to make serious inroads on the 
quality of the material in Le Mousquetaire, and it became evident 
that Dumas was weary of writing prodigiously and yet having barely 
a sou to show for his application. 

On the fifteenth of May, 1855, the Exposition Universelle was 
formally opened, and on the eighteenth of August, in the early eve- 
ning, Queen Victoria of England, returning the visit of Napoleon III, 
rode through the newly opened Boulevard de Strasbourg on her way 
to Saint-Cloud. Although the lateness of this august arrival had some- 
what dampened their ardor, more than eight hundred thousand 
people, many from the nearby towns, crowded the streets and cheered 
the Queen as the carriage passed in murky light beneath the triumphal 
arch and by the decorated house-fronts. In 1520 Henry VIII had met 
Frangois ler on the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold between Guines 
and Ardres; in 1688 the proscribed James II had sought asylum at 
Saint-Germain; in 1843 this same Victoria had shaken the hand of 
Louis-Philippe at the Chateau d'Eu; but this visit was of even more 
momentous circumstances. It marked the cementing of a lasting 
friendship between two great nations. Waterloo was forgotten. There- 
after Paris was a playground for Englishmen; signs reading "Ici on 
farlc anglais" appeared in shop windows; provision was made for the 
entertainment of foreign visitors; and a subtle change manifested itself 
in the volatile city. Plays, bds and illuminations entertained the Eng- 
lish Queen during her week or so in France, and Paris took on the 
semblance of a huge carnival. Dumas strode through all this exhibit- 
ing his customary delight in colorful movement and jovial excitement. 
When he heard that the Queen had indicated a desire to view a special 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 375 

performance of Les Demoiselles de Saint Cyr he received tie news 
with a naive display of vanity. "You ought to be pleased," a friend, 
meeting him in the Chaussee d'Antin, remarked. "Not only did the 
Queen ask to see your play, which she had already seen in London, 
but she enjoyed it even better the second time." "It is like its author," 
remarked Dumas, "the more one knows him the more one loves him. 
But I know what would have amused her still more than seeing my 
play to see me also! Honestly, it would have amused me, tool" 
"Why don't you ask for an audience ?" inquired the impressed friend. 
"I am certain that it would be granted." "Well, I did think of it," 
replied Dumas. "A woman as remarkable as she is, who will probably 
remain the first woman of the century, ought to have met the greatest 
man in France! It is a pity, for she will go away without having seen 
the best sight in France Alexandre, King of the world of Romance " 
and then, remembering the famous chemist whom everybody called 
Dumas le savant, he added "Dumas the Ignorant!" With a roar of 
laughter he proceeded down the Chaussee d'Antin. 

His restlessness persisted and neither triumphs in Paris nor the 
necessity of applying himself to intensive labors if he were to extricate 
himself from debt could keep him at his desk. Books appeared, in 
1855, La Dern&re Annee de Marie Dorval, Le Page du Due de Savoie, 
and the first portion of Salvator, a sequel to Les Mohicans de Paris; 
in 1856, Les Grands Hommes en Robe de Chambre; Richelieu, and 
Madame du Defland; in 1857, Le Meneur de Loups, Les Compagnons 
de Jehu, which had been serialized in Le Journal pour tous, Le L&vrc 
de mon Grand-Ptre, a story by the Comte de Cherville which Dumas 
touched up, Cesar and Les Grands Hommes en Robe de Chambre. 
But between their publications he disappeared, turning up in Mar- 
seilles or, as in 1856, making a trip to Chalons-sur-Marne, Sainte- 
Menehould and Varennes for documents and topographical knowl- 
edge of the flight of Louis XVI, or again, as in 1857, visiting England. 
Not even his plays could hold him in Paris. In 1856 three had been 
produced: L'Orestie, which opened at the Porte-Saint-Martin on Janu- 
ary fifth; La Tour Saint-Jacques la Bouchcrie, played at the Th&tre 
Imperial du Cirque on November fifteenth; and Le Verrou de la 
Reinc, presented at the Gymnase on December fifteenth. None of 



376 . THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

these plays is worth considering, nor is L'Invitation h la Vdse, the 
charming but inconsequential bit which the Gymnase presented on 
August 3, 1857. These books and plays were hastily conceived and 
not too much care was taken to maintain even a respectable level of 
excellence. What was happening to this prodigious worker who had 
returned from Brussels so certain of himself and sanguine for the 
future? What had four busy years in the Paris of Louis-Napoleon 
taught him? It is easy to reply to the first question but more difficult 
to answer the second. What had obviously happened to Dumas was 
a double shift in values that affected his fortunes and his prestige. 
The first shift was in himself, and it was betrayed in the exhaustion 
of his vast fertility. He who had depended so much upon his collabo- 
rators and research workers for a decade or more could produce by 
himself nothing but the repetition of a personality that had become 
exceedingly familiar to Paris and therefore stale. His agreeable quali- 
ties were potent enough to newcomers, but he had taken on the 
semblance of an old story to the populace that had grown up with 
him. They had had their Dumas with them for nearly thirty years 
and in all of that time he had been the same, undisciplined, faulty, 
full of high and colorful arcs into the Romantic skies, and swift drops 
into the superficial flatnesses of journalism. In the 1850$ there were 
more flatnesses than colored arcs. Dumas had emptied himself of his 
surprises, and his audiences, which had traveled in Time beyond 
even the best of those surprises, were a bit contemptuous, a bit too 
sophisticated, a bit too immersed in the new spirit of things. It was 
this changed taste of the public that made up the second shift in the 
fortunes of Dumas* A new generation of writers was asserting itself 
and Dumas was badly equipped to challenge comparison with it. 
From the literary viewpoint he was an untidy but amusing old man 
striving to run with the youngsters. The youngsters did not run. 
That was the gait of the outmoded Romantics. They traveled at a 
slower pace, gazing about them with sharp analytical eyes. If Lcs 
Trots Mousquetaires was the book of 1844, then Madame Bovary was 
the book of 1857. Paris had become sophisticated. The cape-and- 
sword era in fiction had given place to the boudoir-and-drawing-room 
era. It was on the very day of the Couf d'fitat that the first novel 
gf th$ Qoncwjt brothers appeared; and in 1855 they were writing 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 377 

in their journal: "Put into a novel a chapter on the feminine eye 
and glance, a chapter composed of long and serious observations." 
These brothers who desired to kill all adventure in the novel, and 
Flaubert, Zola, Renan and Taine were the manifestations of the shift 
in the Time-Spirit that was so disastrous to Dumas. 

On February 7, 1857, & s strongest link with Paris snapped. Lc 
Mousquetaire ceased to exist It had been a sad affair during its last 
year but its failure was still sadder. It had started so auspiciously and 
the expectations of Dumas concerning it had been so grandiose. Now 
where was that half-million of francs that was to be dredged from 
this gold mine? A strange silence fell on the courtyard of the Maison 
d'Or and M. Alexandri no longer ran to his window in expectation 
of seeing somebody slaughtered on the cobbles. The long-haired poets 
and gesticulating fantaisistcs departed. Well, it could not be helped. 
Dumas discoursed as extravagantly as ever, but moments of depres- 
sion settled upon him with increasing regularity. He announced that 
he would found another journal and write it all himself. And, then 
again, he would go away and see those portions of the great world 
that he had dreamed about but never explored. He became a bird 
of passage, constantly flying from Paris and then returning to plan 
new flights. A silence would fall over his usual haunts; voices would 
murmur, "What's become of Dumas?" and then around the corner 
he would come, rotund, smiling, full of strange schemes and laugh- 
able stories. Early in April he appeared in London, acting as special 
correspondent for La Prcssc during the general elections, A funny 
country 1 He snuffed the foggy air and laughed. He gazed at the 
masked visages of the reticent Englishmen and laughed again. There 
was too much fog in their throats for conversation. Even the papers 
made ridiculous mistakes about distinguished visitors. To the Times 
he wrote: "As the Times is considered to be the best informed journal 
in Europe, and as I am anxious that it should continue to deserve its 
reputation, allow me to correct two errors into which you have fallen 
as regards me. (i) I am not M. Dumas fils, but M. Dumas ftrc\ 
(2) I do not write for La Pressc 'by the line* but for my own pleasure." 
It was not that he was jealous of his son's reputation but he was tired 
of being reminded that Dumas fils W3$ more <w cowwt witfc the 



378 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

Time-Spirit than he* He loved young Alexandra but, after all, he 
was himself and not his son, even though that son had stated: "My 
father is a great child born when I was very young." If the English- 
men would only get the fog out of their eyes they might see better. 
The English Sunday appalled him. "On Sunday everything is for- 
bidden in London; when I say London, I say England; and when 
I say England, I say the English possessions. At Southampton a barber 
was fined twenty-five hundred francs for having shaved a man and 
on Guernsey an innkeeper was fined a hundred francs for selling a 
noggin of gin. In London, after having worked six days one does 
not rest on the seventh, on s'cnnuicl Sunday in London gives one an 
idea of what the Kingdom of the Sleeping Beauty was like before 
the Princess was awakened." It was the usual Continental amaze- 
ment at the Anglo-Saxon's strict observance of the Sabbath. Dumas 
passed the doleful day in his hotel composing Ulnvitation h la Valse. 
Later in the spring, in May, he returned to England, this time with 
Alexandre fits, to see the Derby run off on Epsom Downs. He arrived 
on Monday in order to escape the deadly English Sunday and returned 
to Paris on Saturday for the same reason. He put up at the London 
Coffee House, Ludgate Hill. The London of Dickens, unclean, 
sprawling, grimily picturesque, was all about him but his peregrina- 
tions seem to have been limited. He visited the wax-works of Madame 
Tussaud and gaped delightedly at the countless souvenirs of the 
French Revolution. There was Marat's bath-tub, for example. The 
fact that there was another one in Paris did not disturb his pleasure. 
For an hour he strolled along the gravel paths of Hyde Park. "In 
Hyde Park," he noted, "you find the finest horses and also the prettiest 
women in London, and therefore in the whole world. But to do the 
Englishman justice, his first glance is for the horse, and, one might 
almost add, his first desire." Dumas barely noticed the horses, but 
he paid assiduous attention to the charming women. He saw some 
pretty girls in Rotten Row (le chemin pourri, as he called it), and 
imagined that he had realized in a flash the native quality of the 
heroines of Shakespeare. These graceful blonde creatures were, to 
him, the very doubles of Rosalind and Beatrice. His Gallic ebullience 
urged him into conversation with some of the Englishmen he met 
and he was amazed at their reluctant answers. "An Englishman, 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 379 

astonished at your question, says *Ho!'; if he is very much astonished 
he says, *Ho! Ho!'; but, however astonished he is, he never makes 
any answer." 

Derby Day arrived and Dumas, the guest of a Mr. Young, traveled 
to Epsom Downs in true English fashion, in a coach and four with 
postillions, braying horns, and hampers crammed with food and 
liquors. Swaying along the country road he went in an inextricable 
crowd of four-in-hands, mail-coaches, broughams, landaus, phaetons, 
buggies, cabs, donkey-chaises and hansoms. The names of these con- 
veyances delighted him. The heat, the pushing mobs of cockneys, 
the bawling gypsies, the dust, the dirt, the quarrels, the loud-mouthed 
bettors, the peep-shows and the games of chance did not lessen his 
enjoyment in the spectacle, although he did note a trifle wryly: 
"Derby Day is the carnival of London which has no carnival." On 
the Downs he decided: "A gallop is the regulation pace on Derby 
Day; everything goes at a gallop even the donkeys." Pushed hither 
and thither by the conglomeration of excited folk, dodging dog-carts 
(which he called voitures des chiens)> avoiding itinerant merchants 
of unappetizing refreshments and heady liquors, he received his first 
complete immersion in English life, his bath of a foreign humanity. 
It was an experience that he seemed to enjoy more for its curious 
facets than for any pleasures of the senses, and though he spoke 
warmly of his English friends, we may suspect that he was very glad 
that he was a Frenchman going back to France where the lively 
populace took a more immediate pleasure in pleasures. The pilgrim- 
age to the Derby accomplished Blink-Bonny won Dumas called 
the race-horse Joli-Clignoteurihe Crystal Palace investigated, Cre- 
morne Gardens visited and the Great Eastern admired, Dumas re- 
turned to Paris. He had arrived at certain convictions about the 
English. "The English, the least artistic and most industrial (I say 
'industrial' and not 'industrious') of peoples, have almost achieved 
art by force of industry." "The English think that the bigger a thing 
is, the greater it is." "The Englishman generally has the spleen in 
November. You may fancy that that is because of the fog, which 
commences in November and doesn't go away until May. Not at 
all! They have the spleen because they have been deprived of the 
fog for four months. You may ask me what the English make their 



3 8o THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

fogs of? Of coal, I suppose, but that is a detail. It was not the good 
God who made the fog, it was the English!" 

Back in Paris, Dumas put into execution his threat to found another 
periodical. He established Monte Cristo, a publication which, he 
declared, would be purely his own mouth-piece. The first issue ap- 
peared in May. It was a weekly instead of a daily, and while it 
achieved a fair audience it never reached the circulation Lc Mous- 
quctdrc had commanded during the first few months of its existence. 
Monte Cristo was primarily a causcrie sheet. It did not matter what 
the subject might be, English life, hunting elephants, phrenology, 
art, macaroni b I'ltalicnne; he would attack it with gusto. Naturally 
Monte Cristo was plentifully besprinkled with the first person singu- 
lar. Politics he left severely alone. What Napoleon III was doing or 
why he was doing it might be matters of burning moment in the 
privacy of one's chamber but they were not the proper subjects for 
an intimate chatter-sheet. Dumas was beginning to indulge in pru- 
dence, a quality he had scorned most of his life. Too many periodicals 
had been suppressed by "the Dutchman" or were being censored by 
politicians whose object was the continued consolidation of the Em- 
pire. Yet Dumas could show his indignation fearlessly enough when 
it seemed incumbent so to do for honor's sake. There was, for in- 
stance, his quarrel with Mademoiselle Augustine Brohan. She had 
been a good friend to Dumas; he had brought the petite Isabel Con- 
stant to her house; her acting and she was one of the outstanding 
comediennes of her time had done much to maintain the popularity 
of some of the writer's plays. Yet when she attacked the political 
conduct of Victor Hugo in Lc Figaro the rage of Dumas knew no 
bounds. Hugo was a defenceless exile, fair game for all the cowardly 
little ink-spatterers in Paris; and to Dumas it seemed shameful that 
the Sun-God's manifest sincerity should be impeached. Mademoiselle 
Brohan had written under the nom-dc-plumc of Suzanne, but Dumas 
quickly discovered the author and despatched a letter to the Thatre- 
Fran^ais demanding that the actress be denied the privilege of appear- 
ing in any of his dramas in the future. He was depriving himself of 
a charming exponent of some of his best r61es but he did not care. 
Hugo and he had been brother-musketeers of the Romantic days and 
the ancient motto still held firm: one for all and all for CHIC. 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 381 

The shadow of Auguste Maquct hovered over Dumas during this 
period. What had the mustachioed ex-collaborator been doing all this 
time? Many things* He had written a number of books without 
assistance, planned them and composed them entirely on his own, 
and while they had not been astounding neither had they been bad. 
They were Dumas without the tang. During 1853 an< ^ ^54 La Belle 
Gabridlc had appeared. In 1855 he gave Lc Comtc dc Lavtrnie to 
a not too eager public; and La Maison dc Baigncur was issued during 
1856. It was during this year that Maquct, giving up all hope of 
remuneration for past services from Dumas, resorted to the courts. 
The famous document of 1848 in which he had assigned all his rights 
to Dumas for the lump sum of 145,200 francs payable in monthly 
instalments over a period of eleven years he claimed was broken, and 
he applied to the courts for a revocation of this agreement, half the 
author's rights, and his name on eighteen novels. Why had he done 
this? For several reasons. He had witnessed his bright dream of a 
fortune dissipated by the collapse of the Th6atre-Historiquc, the 
bankruptcy of Dumas, the Coup d'fitat, and the flight of Dumas to 
Brussels. Still Maquet waited patiently. The spell of Dumas was 
on him. Not even the insidious whispers of the anti-Dumas clique 
could shake him. But time passed; Lc Mousquctairc blossomed, 
flourished, dwindled and died; it became apparent to the younger 
man that Dumas (circumvented by fate as much as his own extrava- 
gance) would never make those long overdue payments. It became 
no longer a question of friendship but a matter of justice. Then too, 
the irritation occasioned by constantly seeing those eighteen books 
with the solitary name of Dumas upon their covers had its effect. 
After all he had written important portions of them and he had 
slaved in the galleys of various bibliothques to dredge out of for- 
gotten tomes the historical color and incidents for these books. He 
forgot that he was a secondary figure, a secretary who moved at the 
direction of the master and who was like a mesmerized mind ani- 
mated and guided by the personality of Dumas. It did not occur to 
him that while Lc BcUc Gabricllc was good, it was at its best only 
the shadow of the full-bodied novels Dumas had conceived and he 
had executed with him. Neither did he remember that he had vei&- 
tured into this association open-eyed, that there had never been any 



382 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

question of full partnership in the collaborations, and that he had 
burst into tears of gratitude that memorable evening in his box at 
the Ambigu when, much to his surprise, he had been announced as 
collaborator with Dumas of Les Mousquetaires. He had not expected 
it for there had never been such an agreement. He forgot all these 
things and remembered only his years of hard labor and the meager- 
ness of his financial reward for them. It was as an enemy, therefore, 
that he attacked Dumas in the courts. 

It was painful to observe these two old friends who between them 
had established the cape-and-sword romance in French literature, so 
ranged against each other. Dumas continued smiling and friendly 
and boasted that he bore no hard feelings toward Maquet. "Why 
should he?" thought Maquet bitterly. "He has had all the best of 
it. He had the money and spent it. He still has the fame." There 
was some moral justice in Maquet's bitterness but no legal rights and 
the courts recognized this in 1858 when they denied his demands 
but acknowledged his collaboration and awarded him the twenty- 
five per cent statutory dividend. Maquet retired angrily from the 
unequal contest. Dumas was a scoundrel. He was a treacherous old 
negro. The victim of these epithets shrugged his shoulders ruefully. 
What could he do? He lamented the estrangement of Maquet but 
he could not pay even the twenty-five per cent dividend. One needed 
money to make payments and the francs that flowed into the coffers 
of Monte Cristo flowed out as swiftly as they had during the days of 
Le Mousquetairc. No, he could do nothing. Poor Maquet. He was 
still fond of him. Maquet was comparatively young he was only 
forty-five and might do great things in the future. But for a reason 
not hard to find, he never did anything. He had lost the animating 
influence that had sustained him through so much labor. The secret 
was lost. Dumas saw him march furiously out of his life and sighed 
to think of the many estrangements there were in this changing 
world. But he did not sigh for any length of time. There were too 
many things to do. A journey to Marseilles, and the production of 
Lcs Gardes Forcstiers at the Grand-Th&tre there on March 23, 1858. 
The premiere of L'Honncur cst satlsfait at the Gymnase in Paris on 
June 19. And books, three of them: Lc Capitainc Richard, BlacJ^ and 
L'Horoscope* 



THE STRUGGLING MUSKETEER 383 

The seasons passed swiftly to these efforts and to the concoction of 
countless causeries. There were splendors and parades in Paris. The 
salons intrigued Dumas; the best restaurants lured him; a few old 
friends remained with whom he might discourse about the past. But 
the mark of time was upon him. It was evident in his restlessness, in 
the growing suspicion that the capital had relegated him to a lesser 
place, in the faltering of his dramatic enterprises and the increasing 
difficulties of creating successful novels. The swift life of Paris 
increased and Dumas could hardly keep pace with it. He began 
to think again of far-away places. "Posterity," he announced, "com- 
mences at the frontier." He might have said, "The old order 
changeth. . . ." 



CHAPTER SIX 

THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 
I 

DANIEL DOUGLAS HOME, a young Scotchman of feminine appearance, 
amazed and perturbed Paris during the winter of 1858. He was in 
league with powers beyond the grave and at his bidding these invis- 
ible spirits appeared and rapped tables, lifted chairs and shook win- 
dows in their frames. Shuddering duchesses and uneasy counts 
witnessed these manifestations with a fearful pleasure. It was a new 
thrill for the enervated society of the Second Empire, a frisson calcu- 
lated to arouse lethargic natures soporiferous from easy luxuries. 
Home, the spirit medium, passed like a new Cagliostro through the 
salons of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. It was natural that Dumas 
should seek out this surprising phenomenon, for all his life he had 
believed implicitly in the magic of somnambulism, in animal magnet- 
ism and in chiromancy. No Haitian negro dancing before his Voodoo 
altar was more superstitious than Dumas, Home, to Dumas, there- 
fore, was an authentically inspired adept in communicating with the 
unseen world. The meeting was arranged % by mutual friends and an 
intimacy sprang up between the writer and the medium. Dumas, 
wide-eyed and open-mouthed, would gaze at the table-turning, and 
the Scotchman would accept gracefully the homage implicit in the 
older man's silence. They visited cafs together, the theaters and the 
homes of mutual friends. One day Home took his French companion 
to the Hotel dcs Trois Empercurs in the Place du Palais-Royal where 
the Russian Comtc Kouchclef, his wife and entourage were staying. 
The Comtc Kouchclef was a Cossack of the Zaparog tribe beyond the 
cataracts of the Dnieper. His conversation was a stream of thrilling 
talcs of the fierce life of the hard riders of the steppes, and Dumas, 

384 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 385 

attuned always to the hoofbeats of romance, became a frequent visitor 
to the Trois Empereurs. Home's visits were for another purpose. It 
was his desire to marry the sister of the Comtesse Kouchelef. Dumas 
was present when the prospective wedding was announced. It would 
take place in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg! The fortress of Peter 
and Paul! The Nevsky Prospect! The city of Ivan! And Russia! 
Moscow! The Kremlin! The city that Napoleon had destroyed! 
Nijni-Novgorod! Kasan! Astrakhan! Sebastopol! The slow waves 
of the Volga! The eyes of Dumas glistened. Comte Kouchelef noticed 
this and smiled. A few days after the announcement of the betrothal 
had been made public he approached Dumas and said: "We leave for 
Russia in five days and we are going to take you with us." Dumas 
bounded from his chair. "Impossible!" he gasped. They convinced 
him that it was not impossible. He asked for two days in which to 
make up his mind. They gave him ten minutes. Five days later he 
was on the Cologne express with his face turned toward the Slav city 
of Peter. 

As the train sped across France Dumas's spirits lifted in the exulta- 
tion of the wanderer. He had remained sedentary too long; he was 
a nomad, a bird of travel, an explorer of the world and its wonders; 
it was no matter that he had left so many unfinished things behind 
him. Providence would take care of them. Or Louis-Napoleon. He 
did not care which. As for his journal, Monte Cristo, he had left that 
in charge of a deputy-editor and had vaguely promised to forward 
travel causerics. At Cologne they changed to the Berlin train, and at 
Berlin they went to the Hotel de Rome where there were not enough 
beds to accommodate them. Dumas slept in the bathtub. From Ber- 
lin they went on to Stettin and there they boarded a steamer, Le 
Wladimir> for St. Petersburg. Dumas was joyous and amusing. One 
of his fellow passengers was Prince Troubetzkoi who, won over by 
the bubbling gusto of the writer, suggested that Dumas come to hunt 
wolves with him on his estate, and Dumas, protesting that chasing 
bears would be more fun, accepted the invitation. The towers of 
St. Petersburg rose before the party and Dumas was taken to the 
Villa Bezborodko, the splendid residence of the Comte Kouchelcf 
which was at some distance from the city but from which a magnifi- 
cent view of the wide sweep of the Neva might be seen. Days passed 



386 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

in exploration of St. Petersburg with the Russian novelist, Gregoro- 
vitch, as guide. It was all admirable, the strange architecture, the 
monuments, the bridges, the churches, the clear moon of June above 
the city, and the soft air; yet something in the Russian mode of living 
disturbed Dumas. Perhaps it was occasioned by his visit to the great 
prison where the exiles for Siberia were herded. 

The marriage of Home and the sister of the Comtesse Kouchelef 
took place in an elaborate setting glittering with uniforms, and Dumas, 
expansive and impressive with half a dozen decorations draped across 
his wide bosom, acted as best man. It was one of the few times that 
he took the second lead in any of the dramas of his life. But even 
here, though he was but a subsidiary in an episode that was of prime 
importance to Home, the adulation that greeted him on all sides 
pleased his vanity. Six weeks among the Slav nobility passed and 
Dumas bethought himself of his determination to see the rest of the 
strange country, as much of it as he could see within the time at his 
disposal. He was curious and he needed impressions for his causeries. 
He bade farewell to the hospitable Comte Kouchelef and departed on 
a boat along the Neva to Schlusselberg. He would see Finland. Lake 
Ladoga delighted him, but a trip to the Island of Konivetz, where 
an ancient religious establishment was situated, irritated him because 
all that he could get for dinner was tea, bread and salted fish. He 
explored the islands in Lake Ladoga and then returned to St. Peters- 
burg where he took a final farewell of Comte Kouchelef and com- 
mended Home to the spirits. Moscow called to him, for Jenny Falcon 
was there. So, too, was the Comte Narychkine, one of the great boyars 
of the Russian Empire. Dumas remained for a month as a welcome 
guest in the Comte's residence in Petrovsky Park. He saw the Kremlin 
by moonlight, made a pilgrimage to the battlefields of Moskova, 
bowed his head before the monument in the foreign cemetery which 
bore the inscription: "Francois marts pendant ct aprh V occupation? 
and then departed for Nijni-Novgorod to revel in the famous fair. 
Accompanied by a guide attached to him by the rector of the Uni- 
versity of Moscow he sailed down the sad and uniform river of the 
Volga, stopping at night in strange towns and reaching Nijni-Nov- 
gorod on the third day. Here he was pleasantly surprised to meet 
the Comte and Comtesse Aunenkof who were the Alexis and Pauline 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 387 

of that Le Maitre d'Armes which Dumas had written some years 
before from the notes of Grisier. It was amusing, too, to discover on 
sale in the streets of the town handkerchiefs printed in colors with 
scenes from the book. The brightly colored fair with its shouting 
hucksters, its strange music and its wild dances held him for three 
days and then Dumas started forth again on the Volga. At Kasan 
he mingled with the Tartars and was embarrassed by the gifts show- 
ered upon him. When he left for Astrakhan he took with him six 
extra bags of presents which he had found it impossible to refuse. 
Two days were agreeably passed in Saratov and on the twenty-sixth 
of October he sailed into the port of Astrakhan and the Caspian Sea 
was before him. 

Astrakhan was like an Arabian Nights dream. Strange foods and 
bizarre people and Kalmuck madness were apparent on all sides. 
Dumas was entertained by Prince Toumaine, rubbed noses with him 
in greeting, saw a vast herd of ten thousand wild horses driven into 
the Volga and swimming across that river, their eyes burning, their 
unkempt manes flung back. He wrote verses in the album of the 
Princess and witnessed a camel race. He even wrestled with the 
Prince and threw him after a five-minute struggle, but it is to be 
suspected that the courtesy of the Kalmuck had something to do 
with this easy victory. While he was in Astrakhan the traveler ton- 
ceived the idea of pushing on to the frontiers of Russia and Asia. He 
would go to Kislar but to do that he would have to cross an enormous 
and solitary steppe, a desert of sand at least a hundred leagues long. 
There were perils attached to such a journey, for the wilderness 
swarmed with Kalmuck vagabonds and Tartar nomads; but once 
having set his heart on the venture Dumas disregarded the danger. 
He started oft in a tarantasse, a peculiar Kalmuck conveyance, armed 
with a falcon presented to him by Prince Toumaine and with his 
Spanish decoration flaming on the bosom of his Russian military coat. 
The armed Cossacks who encountered him saw the gleaming medals 
and mistook him for a French general. Dumas accepted the mis- 
conception with a smile, returned the sharp salutes with military 
precision, and proceeded safely to Kislar, a town which did not appeal 
to him greatly, and from there to Tiflis, the capital of Georgia. Tiflis 
charmed him. It smacked of the dear, dirty East. He ate 



3 88 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

mutton prepared in a local fashion, and liked it enormously. He was 
entertained by Baron Finot, by Prince Bariatinski, by the viceroy of 
Caucasia, all of whom treated him as a great celebrity. The result 
was that he remained six weeks in the Georgian capital and wrote 
two short books, Sultanetta and La Boule dc Neige, as well as a 
number of postponed causcries for Monte Cristo. Then he was ofj 
for Poti where he unluckily missed the boat for Trebizond and was 
forced to stay for several days in a dirty and outrageously expensive 
inn. He met Vasili during his residence here. Vasili was an intelli- 
gent Georgian boy, so intelligent that Dumas immediately took him 
into his service. It was cold in Poti and the writer's fingers grew 
numb as he sat in his chilly room at the small inn and strove to set 
down his impressions of the Caucasus for the impatient Parisian 
readers of his neglected periodical. And in the yard beneath his 
room a nocturnal saturnalia of squealing pigs disturbed him. Dumas 
could see them through the uneven flooring, skinny, irascible, amorous 
swine. He finally drove them away "by pouring boiling water through 
the cracks in the floor. When the steamer Grand Due Constantin 
which was to carry him to Trebizond finally arrived it was an in- 
tensely relieved author who hurried on board. At Trebizond name 
redolent of Eastern tales he boarded the packet-boat Sully which 
brought him to Marseilles by way of Constantinople. The minarets 
above the Golden Horn flashed briefly before him; the familiar blue 
waters of the Mediterranean charmed him; and the bustle along the 
Cannebiere in Marseilles delighted him. He would eat bouillebaisse, 
exchange tales with Mery and then plunge once again into the gay 
life of Paris. 

Sdvator, the long continuation of Lcs Mohicans dc Paris, had been 
halted abruptly when Dumas departed so suddenly for Russia; now 
upon his return to Paris he picked up the loose threads of this huge, 
shapeless fcuitteton and proceeded with it to the gratification of his 
readers who disapproved of these suspensions. Once again he was 
striding along the beloved boulevards, breathing the clear air of the 
city by the Seine and listening to the trumpets on the Champs de 
Mars. Doors seemed to open of their own accord when his step 
approached; hands were extended and voices vibrated with welcome. 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 389 

It was always this way. Paris never fully appreciated her playboy 
until he returned from foreign lands after a prolonged absence. She 
experienced anew the charm of Dumas and paid willing tribute to 
it until the charmer exasperated her by some ridiculous divagation, 
some notorious affair with an actress or some law suit over contract 
defalcations. This time Dumas enjoyed a renewal of the popularity 
he had in the middle forties. He was Dumas ptrc now, for the many 
successes of his son had given a double significance to the name. At 
this time Alexandre fils seemed to be following in the footsteps of 
his father; he was deeply engulfed in a liaison with Madame Naris- 
chkine whom he had met at Baden, a liason that resulted the next 
year, 1860, in the birth of a daughter, Colette. Unlike his father, 
however, he married the mother of this illegitimate child. At the 
same time Alexandre fils was putting the finishing touches to a new 
play, Un Prc Prodigue, in which the principal character would seem 
to be modeled after his creator. Therefore he saw little of Dumas 
and would continue to see little of him until the last few years of 
his father's life. Parent and child had reached a division of ways, 
and while the parent continued his disorderly, amoral, Bohemian 
existence, the son tended more and more toward a regulated and 
respectable observance of life. Dumas at this time exhibited his dis- 
regard of morals by bringing his affair with Isabel Constant to a 
friendly termination and embarking at once upon another with a 
slim, boyish girl named fimilie Cordier. During this year Ida Ferrier 
Dumas, sometimes known as La Comtesse Davy de la Pailleterie, died 
at Pisa. She had faded with such finality from the life of Dumas that 
he could not summon a single regret. 

On April 16, 1859, the first issue of Lc Caucase appeared, a daily 
journal established by Dumas as a catch-all for his Russian stories, 
travel sketches and notes. It did not last long, however, for the un- 
businesslike author ran out of material and the publisher calmly 
stole several chapters from Edouard Merlieux's Lcs Souvenirs d'unc 
Franfaise, Captive de Schamyl, and filled up the columns of the 
fourteenth, twentieth and twenty-first issues of the periodical with 
them. Merlieux waxed indignant at this pilfering and resorted to 
the Tribunal Correctionnel of the Seine for justice. He received it 
Dumas was ordered to pay the author one hundred francs d* amende 



390 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

and to be conjointly responsible with the publisher, Charlieu, for 
five hundred francs damages. Lc Caucase incontinently disappeared. 
But this was no more than an unfortunate episode in a busy spring 
and early summer. His industrious pen did not falter for Monte 
Cristo continually required material and the publishers insisted that 
their contracts be observed. Five titles appeared during this year: 
Ammdat Beg and Le Caucase, both memorials of the Russian trip; 
Le Chasseur de Sauvagine, written from a story supplied by the inven- 
tive Comte de Cherville; Charles le Temtraire, an historical sketch 
of Charles the Bold of Burgundy; and Les Louves de Machccoul, a 
full length novel which ran serially in Le Journal pour tous and 
which dealt with the Royalist uprising in La Vendee in 1832 in favor 
of the Duchesse de Berry. It is probable that Dumas was assisted by 
some unnamed author in the writing of this book. So much work 
meant long and fatiguing hours bowed over a desk, but the vigor 
of Dumas remained undiminished and there was always time to ap- 
pear in theater foyers or salons or the studios of his friends. Wher- 
ever he went he brought or created new tales, marvelous narratives 
even if they were not true. What did it matter whether Dumas told 
the truth or not? There were even skeptical listeners and readers 
who, remembering Quinze Jours au Sinai, were convinced that Dumas 
had never been near Russia but had secreted himself in a room and 
concocted the whole thing. Nevertheless, the tales and travel sketches 
in themselves were compact with a gaiety and color that were irre- 
sistible. Who cared whether Dumas had really killed lions or wrestled 
with a Kalmuck prince or been bitten by a ferocious vulture? Who 
cared whether Baron Munchausen really existed or not? 

Dumas, after the months of absence in Russia, would seem to be 
settled for some time in Paris, but in reality he was already meditating 
another flight. The cafes bored him, the boulevards soon wearied him. 
His entangled finances aggravated him. The , studios reeked too 
strongly of tobacco smoke. Memories of the minarets above the 
Golden Horn haunted him and he thought of all the eastern lands 
he had never seen. More than once in Monte Cristo he had broached 
the plan of an extended journey dear to his heart, meditated upon 
often, even fully planned out. What could be finer than to equip 
a small boat, recruit a few friends as fellow passengers, preferably 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 391 

men who did not smoke, and sail into the Eastern wonders of the 
Mediterranean ? He would put in at all the ports of Sicily and dream 
beneath the warm sun while Vesuvius blew thin spirals into the 
cloudless sky. He would lounge along the coast of Egypt where 
once the ships of the Carthaginians had passed, and wave a hand to 
the Alexandrian pharos. He would see Sparta that had produced 
strong men and Athens where the Acropolis crowned the violet-hued 
hill and Corinth where the noble ruins stood. He would sail through 
the Ionian Isles and pause at forgotten pagan shrines. He would 
pass through the Golden Horn and walk through the streets of Con- 
stantinople and meditate upon Byzantium. He would traverse the 
blue waves of the Bosphorus and muse upon Lord Byron at Abydos. 
He would even explore the ancient cities of Asia Minor and walk 
across the fields of Troy. He was aging and it was time to complete 
his explorations of the world. In another few years he would be too 
old to travel. There would be time enough then to settle down to 
a sedentary existence in Paris and fill the twilight end of Time with 
books and still more books. Late in the summer he went to Marseilles, 
laughed again with Mery over the southern chasseurs who sat in 
their shooting boxes waiting for birds that never came, inquired 
about ship-builders and ordered the construction of a small boat at 
Syra to be ready for him early in the new year. His friends threw up 
their hands in amazement. That great mad Dumas! He was about 
to set off again on some unreasonable exploit that would plunge him 
farther than ever in debt. But Dumas gave no heed to the amused 
expostulations of his friends. 

The construction of the boat under way, Dumas returned to a 
fury of writing in Paris. It would be necessary to raise as much 
money as possible if his prospective journey was to be at all the 
triumph he planned. Alexandra fils entered his father's study one 
day and found him surrounded by reams of paper and laboring with 
a ferocity that was awe-inspiring. "How are you?" he inquired. 
Dumas raised an exhausted face down which perspiration trickled. 
"Very tired. Very tired." "Then why don't you rest?" asked the 
son. "I cannot." "Why not?" Dumas flung down his pen and 
pulled open the drawer of his desk. There were two louis there. 
"See," he said, "when I came to Paris in 1823 I had fifty-three francs. 



392 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

You observe that I have no more than forty now. If I mean to recover 
those thirteen francs that I have lost it is necessary that I labor." A 
roar of laughter and Dumas was immersed in his copy again. By 
January, 1860, he was in Marseilles overseeing the furnishings and 
equipment for the newly finished boat which he christened the 
Emma, undoubtedly in memory of that fair and frail Lady Hamilton 
who loved Nelson. Marseilles was lovely. The weather was warm 
whereas it was freezing in Paris, and there were great tureens of 
bouillebaisse to devour in the company of Mery, Emilie Cordier, who 
accompanied her huge idol everywhere now, Jadin and some of the 
actors and actresses from the Marseilles theaters, Dumas heard that 
Garibaldi, the fierce champion of Victor Emmanuele, was at Turin, 
so he traveled to the Italian city to pay his respects to the man who 
was fighting for freedom. Garibaldi, tall and red-bearded, with his 
long hair brushing the collar of his shirt and flowing upon his shoul- 
ders, greeted Dumas with affability. The Frenchman explained his 
profound love for freedom and his abysmal hatred of the wretched 
Bourbon, Francis II, who ruled at Naples. Had not that infamous 
King's still more infamous uncle attempted to poison General Alex- 
andre Dumas in the prisons of Brindisi? Garibaldi enjoyed the wit 
and oratorical flourishes of this impetuous nomad and confided to 
him the memoirs of his adventurous days as a revolutionist in South 
America. Dumas might put them into a book and publish them in 
Paris. The writer shook the patriot's hand and exclaimed: "God 
knows when we shall meet again, but give me some little scrap of 
paper by which I shall be able to get to you." Garibaldi, wondering 
if he ever should see Dumas again, scribbled on a sheet of paper: "I 
commend to all my friends my illustrious friend, Alexandre Dumas. 
Garibaldi." 

By the end of January Dumas was back in Paris, covering more 
sheets of paper than ever with his swift, legible scrawl, and slapping 
together some hasty plays that might be expected to fill his depleted 
coffers. On February 4th, Lc Roman d'Elvirc, a comic opera written 
with his old friend Adolphe de Leuven, and set to music by Ambroise 
Thomas, was produced at the Op6ra-Comique; and in the hands of 
managers were either the scripts or scenarios of three more potential 
productions. Time was moving rapidly and Dumas darted back and 




Al.KXANDRK Dl'MAS Till-; GIANT,' 
I'UOM A CAKICATUHK BY H. 



The Goncourt brothers spoke of Dumas's face as resembling that 
of the Man in the Moon 




DELACROIX 

The famous painter was always a jriend to Dumas 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 393 

forth with celerity. He must select friends for his cruise, friends 
who would appreciate the blue waves of the Bosphorus and the noble 
lines of the Acropolis. Finally he invited Paul Parfait and Edouard 
Lockroy, and both men accepted with alacrity an invitation to enjoy 
a long vacation at no expense to themselves. It was settled then. 
There were still a few books to give to the publishers and Dumas 
volleyed them from his study as though he were a quick-firing liter- 
ary cannon. La Maison dc Glace, a translation from the Russian; 
Monsieur Coumbs, a short romance of Marseilles; Le Pere Gigogne, 
a volume of fairy tales for children, translated from foreign authors 
for the most part; Le Ptrc la Ruine, a revised version of a story by 
the industrious Comte de Cherville; La Route de Varenncs, an his- 
torical study of the flight of Louis XVI; two volumes of selected 
Causeries from Monte Cristo\ Let Mtmoires d'Horace, a fantasia on 
ancient Rome written as a feuilleton for Le Sticle; Les Drames 
Gcdants: La Marquise d'Escoman, a bit of hack biography scandaleuse. 
There! It was done. He had fifty thousand francs and he was ready 
to bid farewell to Paris, to tuck little Emilie Cordier under one arm, 
grasp Parfait and Lockroy by the coat collars and dash off to the 
lands and seas of history and myth. The boat was swinging at the 
quai, the hold was stuffed with supplies, the sea was fair, romance 
lay ahead. But one last gesture. He seized the ink-well into which 
he had dipped his pen as he dashed off his last fifteen or twenty 
books and despatched it to Madame Victor Hugo on the island of 
Guernsey. The Sun-God, uncertain whether it was a Pandora's Box 
with the lid off from which might fly half a dozen winged mousque- 
taires or a dried-up well, put it on his desk beside his own and ot> 
served it with some trepidation. Where was that fellow off to now? 
He was off to Marseilles to climb aboard the Emma and set sail for 
the Isles of Greece where burning Sappho loved and sung. And 
standing on the deck beside him was Emilie Cordier, dressed in a 
tight little midshipman's uniform which did not as yet reveal the 
fact that she was enceinte. It was late in April when the fifty-eight- 
year-old adventurer moved out of the port of Marseilles and watched 
the gloomy bulk of the Chateau dlf, where Edmond Dantes had 
suffered, fade behind him. The wind ruffled through the upstanding 
mass of crinkly hair, his large neck lifted proudly from the open 



394 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

shirt collar and his small sparkling eyes shifted ahead beyond Toulon, 
beyond Port-Cros and Porquerolles and Hyeres and Nice where 
that splendid red-bearded fellow, Garibaldi had been born to the 
shores of Italy. His destination was Genoa. 

II 

The waves slapped merrily against the brightly painted sides of 
the Emma as she lounged by Mentone and rode parallel with the 
Italian coast. Parfait and Lockroy, acting as secretaries for Dumas, 
viewed the excursion with varying emotions. Parfait was content, 
but Lockroy had learned that Ernest Renan was engaged in archae- 
ological exploration somewhere and desired to join him. Both of 
these men disappeared from the Emma before the cruise was over 
and little Emilie Cordier then became acting secretary to Dumas. On 
May i6th the low gray sea walls of the ancient city of Genoa rose 
before the travelers and Dumas gazed affectionately on the city to 
which he had come so happily several times before. As the Emma 
proceeded to her place of anchor she created a sensation, so much 
of a sensation that the French Admiral, Le Barbier de Tinan, on his 
man-of-war nearly burst with envy. Here was that fellow Dumas 
arriving just in time to seize all the glory for himself! He loved to 
rush in where neither angels nor devils dared to tiptoe and always, 
always he became the center of admiration, attention and laughter. 
The French Admiral stalked down to his cabin and poured himself 
a generous glass of brandy. How long would that fellow stay in the 
bay with his painted boat, his little midshipman of the curiously 
feminine appearance, his uproarious laughter, his elaborate dinner 
parties both on ship and on land, and his naively peremptory requests 
for all sorts of favors? No sooner had Dumas anchored in the bay 
than information was transmitted to him that his new friend Gari- 
baldi had sailed from there on May fifth with a thousand men for 
the chaotic island of Sicily. The Italian patriot and his adventurous 
but tiny army of Red Shirts had landed at Marsala on the eleventh 
of the month. Dumas waited in a fever of unrest, dividing his time 
between his boat and the H6tel de France, for news from this reck- 
less attempt to snatch Sicily from tyrannic power. Garibaldi sud- 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 395 

dcnly represented to him the apotheosis of liberty, the inspired con- 
dottiere who would unify this dismembered land of Italy so domi- 
nated by Bourbons and Papal tricksters. That unification was already 
taking place in the north, where Lombardy by the peace of Zurich had 
come under the crown of Victor Emmanuele, King of Sardinia and 
head of the House of Savoy. The excitable political propensities of 
Dumas suddenly conquered his dream of sailing through the Ionian 
Isles and the Bosphorus. Why should he moon about among the 
ruins when he might assist in the building of a kingdom ? Had not 
Garibaldi left a welcoming letter for him at Genoa? News was 
brought to him that the battle of Calatifimi had taken place on the 
fifteenth and that Garibaldi was marching on Palermo. The Emma 
seemed to tug impatiently at her anchor as though the spirit of her 
stout master had been communicated to her. On the twenty-seventh 
of May Garibaldi and his Thousand entered the ancient city of 
Palermo to the cheers of the Sicilians who had been so aroused by 
the words of Mazzini. Against the will of the captain, an old French 
sailor named Beaugrand, the anchor of the Emma was hauled up, 
the blue waves of the Bosphorus were consigned to the devil and 
Dumas was off for Palermo where history was being made. In his 
pocket was the precious note that Garibaldi had given him in Turin. 
There was a mountainous sea and a fierce gale blowing as the Emma 
ran out of the bay of Genoa. After a week's tossing on the stormy 
waters the eighty-ton boat rode into the quiet Sicilian harbor. The 
detonations of seven mysterious cannon shots hastened the landing 
of Dumas. Did they mean combat or triumph ? 

The Italian liberator flung his arms about Dumas's neck and led 
him to the Palais-Royal Little fimilie Cordier skipped along behind 
her protector. At the Palais-Royal Dumas was installed in the best 
apartments, those of the ex-Governor, Castelcicala, and he settled 
himself to watch the progress of the campaign and to write, to finish 
the memoirs of Garibaldi, to indite vivid letters to the Parisian press 
and to act as unofficial advisor to Garibaldi. The recklessness of 
Dumas in throwing himself unasked into positions of great responsi- 
bility was never more apparent than in this attachment to Garibaldi. 
At first the dictator seemed to accept Dumas at his own valuation 
and there were many consultations between the two men. There 



396 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

was a simplicity about Garibaldi that was touching. Once he pointed 
to the Emma which could be seen riding proudly at anchor through 
the palace window and remarked: "If I were rich I would do like 
you, I would have a yacht." He had just signed a check for half a 
million francs of public funds, but he had no money of his own. Out 
of the official cash he took ten francs a day for his expenses and once 
when he burned a hole in his clothes he was hard put to it for a 
change. Dumas could not understand his wish. What was a yacht 
compared to a country? The intoxication of a cause had carried him 
away completely. He listened to the Red Shirts singing in the streets: 

Addio, mia bclY addio 
L'armata sc ne va; 
Se non fartissi anch' io 
Sarebbc un vilta. 

It was beautiful. The clang of musket-butts on the broken cobbles, 
the heavy tread of soldiers, the quivering excitement in the streets, 
the despatches, the councils of war, the conversations with Garibaldi 
and his officers, with Nino Bixio and Manin and Tiirr, the thought 
of Francis II shuddering with fright in Naples, all these martial mani- 
festations intoxicated him to such an extent that the long planned 
pleasure trip seemed like the slightest of dreams. This was better. 
This was action. Once when Garibaldi returned from some expedi- 
tion out of Palermo the populace poured into the streets to greet him 
and Dumas appeared on his balcony waving a huge banner. He was 
recognized and enthusiastically applauded. "Blessed be my thirty 
years of struggle and toil after all!" he wrote immediately to a Paris 
newspaper. "If France has nothing for her poets but a crown of 
misery and the scepter of exile, the foreigner at least offers them the 
crown of laurel and the car o triumph! O, if you had been with me 
here on this balcony, you two whom I cherish in my heart, dear 
Lamartine, dear Victor Hugo, the triumph would have been for 
you!" 

On June 20 Tiirr's command was ordered by Garibaldi to pro- 
ceed to the center of the island by way of Caltanisetta to Catania on 
the eastern sea. There were about five hundred men of the original 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 397 

Thousand in this detachment besides some Bourbon deserters and a 
dozen Sicilian gentlemen. Two obsolete cannon composed the battery. 
There was no ammunition, but this could be secured from the sulphur 
district of Caltanisetta. Dumas, who had heard of these preparations 
with great interest, suddenly decided to accompany the expedition. 
Practically all of the famous war correspondents had attached them- 
selves to it and Dumas, who was contributing reports to the Parisian 
press, regarded it as imperative that he join the company. He was 
faced by one problem, however, the proper disposition of little fimilie 
Cordier. He could not leave her behind either on the Emma or in 
the Palais-Royal of Palermo for there were too many handsome 
young Italians wandering about and milie sometimes had a thought- 
less acquiescent way with her. He solved the problem by taking her 
with him. Still dressed in her midshipman outfit she made a charm- 
ing figure as she trotted along beside Dumas. The insouciant writer 
was admired by some of the men in the expedition and detested by 
others. His endless advice about every subject under the sun from the 
proper way of loading a gun to the wisest method of governing a 
province grew irksome. Such colossal vanity delighted a few, amazed 
more and irritated the majority. Yet he could always arouse laughter 
from friend and foe alike with his unending badinage. The expe- 
dition passed through uninteresting and difficult country and its 
progress was uneventful. There were no battles, no thrilling rescues, 
nothing resembling the Bastion St. Gervaise at La Rochelle, for ex- 
ample, and before half the island had been crossed Dumas was bored. 
The sullen peasants whose faces lightened when they learned that 
Garibaldi was not going to enforce conscription were uninteresting; 
the war correspondents were dull and antagonistic fellows; and the 
commandant paid no attention at all to the elaborately conceived 
campaign plans of Dumas. When one is fifty-eight years old one 
requires the stimulation of excitement, and steady marching is far 
from exciting; also a fine bed in a palace is much to be preferred to 
a camp couch. Dumas decided that he had seen enough of the march 
across Sicily. After all, fimilie was pregnant and such hardship tired 
her. So one fine morning Dumas bade farewell to the detachment 
and he and his midshipman turned back to Palermo. Perhaps Gari- 
baldi was in need of advice. 



39 8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

He was not. 

Dumas boarded the Emma and prepared to resume his interrupted 
journey to the isles of Greece, Abydos and all those other colorful 
places that had seemed so charming a few months before. But some- 
how the roseate hues had been dissipated from this vision. Reluctantly 
he turned the Emma toward Malta where he planned to stop before 
going on to Corfu, but he was tormented by scruples. Why did he 
not remain and see the culmination of this -daring enterprise? It 
was true that active campaigning had fatigued him and that he was 
not so good a trooper as he might have been twenty years before; 
still were there not other ways in which he might assist the liberator? 
There was the question of guns and ammunitions, for instance. With 
a sudden determination he dismissed the dimming vision of Asia 
and put into a small port in Sicily, Alicata, from whence he dispatched 
a letter to Garibaldi. Should he not go to France and procure arms 
for the brave patriots of Italy? "Say yes, and I will postpone my 
Asian journey and make the campaign with you." In reality he had 
already dismissed the Asian journey from his mind. The Orient 
would always be there. Garibaldi's reply was gracious. He expected 
Dumas in person to outline his plan for procuring guns. He was 
"yours devotedly." The note reached Dumas at Catania to which 
port he had sailed after stopping at Malta for money and mail. For 
three days he had enjoyed the fetes there, danced, listened to music 
and applauded the illuminations. Now duty beckoned and bidding 
farewell to the citizens of the little Sicilian town who had given him 
the freedom of the city ("the fourth time that I had been made a 
citizen of Sicily") he set sail for the oriental gulf of Milazzo and 
arrived in time to witness the battle of Milazzo on July 20tL Gari- 
baldi welcomed him as fondly as ever, talked over the possibilities 
of gun-running and gave him a draft on the municipality of Palermo 
for the purchase of arms. "When you come back, Dumas," he re- 
marked, "you ought to establish a newspaper at Palermo " "What 
shall I call it?" asked Dumas, Garibaldi picked up his pen and wrote, 
"The newspaper which my friend Dumas means to establish in 
Palermo is to have the good name of The Independent, a tide that 
it will deserve the more as he intends not to spare me should I ever 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 399 

desert my principles as a child of the people." Good simple Gari- 
baldi! 

At Palermo Dumas ran into difficulties for the authorities would 
not recognize the requisition for money. Garibaldi, it seemed, had 
neglected to add the ominous word "dictator" below his signature. 
After some excited gesticulations and manoeuverings on the part of 
Dumas the matter was straightened out by the creation of a credit 
account, and on the twenty-ninth of July the distinguished filibusterer 
departed on the Messageries steamer, Lc Pausilippe, for Marseilles, 
On the way out the French boat was nearly run down by a Neapolitan 
vessel A brief halt was made in the Bay of Naples where Dumas 
shook his fist at the palace of Francis II and uttered dark remarks 
concerning the imminent arrival of Garibaldi. At last the Bourbons 
were going to pay for attempting to murder General Alexandre 
Dumas. The run from Naples to Marseilles was uneventful and there 
Dumas passed six pleasant days in his role of Garibaldi's confrere. 
He bristled with importance, ordered guns and ammunitions, breathed 
fire and fury against the King of Naples to the evident distress of the 
French officials, and then disappeared as abruptly as he had arrived. 
By the thirteenth of August he was back before the sea-wall of Naples, 
still a passenger on Lc Pausilippc, with his mission accomplished. 
Two days later he was at Messina boarding the Emma. The anchor 
was weighed and off hastened the Emma to Salerno where it was to 
be hoped the now invisible Garibaldi might be located. But there 
was no Dictator at Salerno* He had vanished, and a thousand rumors 
accounted for him in a thousand places. Dumas shot off fire-works 
from the deck of the Emma, dispatched secretaries right and left on 
mysterious errands, furnished cakes and ices and champagne of the 
Folliet-Louis and Greno brands in honor of the invisible but approach- 
ing Liberator, and otherwise disturbed the tepid Bourbon adherents. 
One morning he awoke to find four thousand Bavarians and Croats, 
mercenaries in the pay of Francis II, drawn up on the shore and 
twelve cannon pointed directly at the Emma. This upset him some- 
what but he was so excited that it was a simple matter to imagine him- 
self in the r&Ie of a commander of a man-of-war. "These men,'* he 
declared with a gesture toward the troopers, "were sent here to crush 
the insumetioib but I shall take good care that they shall stay here 



400 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

as long as I do, that is, until our men have received notice." Happily, 
the Bavarians and Croats were there to desert the Bourbon cause. All 
they wanted was five ducats a man. Nevertheless Dumas departed 
for Naples during the day and by the twenty-third of August he was 
back in the beautiful bay, much to the disgust of Admiral Le Barbier 
de Tinan, 

The day before Garibaldi had crossed the Straits of Messina and 
seized Reggio di Calabria. The Red Shirts were on the mainland with 
their faces turned toward Naples and before this irresistible advance 
the Bourbon armies dissipated like rising mists. Dumas, in the bay 
of Naples, became an unofficial and unauthorized plenipotentiary for 
the Dictator. He received agents, passed out food and drink, issued 
proclamations, defied the disturbed French Admiral and anchored 
within half a pistol shot of the forts. From the deck of the Emma 
he could see the balcony of the royal palace and occasionally he could 
see Francis II, worried and waiting helplessly on events, come to the 
window and gaze across the bay. On the night of the twenty-third, 
Liborio Romano, the most important of the King's ministers and a 
man who was wavering toward Garibaldi, opened negotiations for 
a meeting with Dumas. The meeting took place on a British war- 
ship and the next day Dumas dispatched a letter to Garibaldi which 
read in part: "Romano is at your disposition, together with at least 
two of his fellow-Ministers, at the first attempt at reaction on the 
King's part. At this first attempt, which will set him free from his 
oath of fidelity, Liborio Romano offers to leave Naples with two of 
his colleagues, to present himself to you, to proclaim the deposition 
of the King and to recognize you as Dictator." Garibaldi read this 
letter in one of the dirty streets of Soveria and lifted a worried face. 
What was this fire-eating fellow Dumas about? Garibaldi was eager 
that any uprising in Naples be retarded until he himself was at the 
gates of the city ready to assume direction. He feared a resultant 
anarchy if he were not there and he also feared that Cavour and 
Victor Emmanuelc might seize the power and so bring to an end 
his Dictatorship and his ambition to invade the Papal States. He 
sent a message to Liborio Romano with a hint of all this in it. 

In the meantime Dumas continued his martial propaganda, wel- 
coming deserters from the Bourbon cause to the Emma and other- 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 401 

wise acting the thorn in the flesh of monarchy. At last Francis II 
could stand it no longer. He went to the French Ambassador and 
complained that M. Dumas had hindered General Scotti from bring- 
ing supplies to the soldiers, that he had brought about the revolution 
in Salerno and that he had then come to the port of Naples where 
he was sowing proclamations through the town, distributing arms 
and red shirts and making himself generally irritating to the as yet 
established government He insisted that M. Dumas be protected no 
longer by the French flag was not France neutral in this revolu- 
tion? and that he be ordered to leave Naples. The French Am- 
bassador acquiesced and an order was transmitted at once to Dumas 
declaring that if the Emma were not out of the bay in half an hour 
the forts would open fire on it, Dumas thereupon had his anchor 
hauled up and proceeded to Castellamarc where there were no cannon 
staring him in the face. There he resumed his propagandist activities, 
welcomed a committee of action that came aboard to ask his advice 
as to the propriety of a provisional government and continued to send 
despatches to the approaching Garibaldi. "Would you wish that all 
the newspapers, the artists, painters, sculptors and architects should 
give a shout of joy? Then issue a decree to this effect: *In the name 
of the artist community. The explorations at Pompeii shall be resumed 
and continued if I reach Naples. (Signed) G. Garibaldi, Dictator.' " 
Dumas had something up his sleeve for himself here. Being driven 
still further from Naples the Emma put in at Picciotta where more 
red shirts were distributed and an attempt was made to revolutionize 
the place. Then the vessel proceeded toward Capri and was off that 
corner of the earth sacred to sirens when a passing steamer hailed 
Dumas, explaining that Garibaldi had entered Naples to the multi- 
tudinous shouts of the populace and that the Dictator desired his 
unofficial ally by his side. The Emma turned her prow toward the 
city. Garibaldi had entered Naples on September 7th by which date 
Francis II had fled to Gaeta. The campaign was over. 

The question as to exactly what measure of aid Dumas gave to 
Garibaldi is unanswerable. It is certain that he spent most of his 
money and gave all of his time over a period of several months and 
that Garibaldi cntcrtaiaal, for a time at least, a sincere affection for 
his reckless admirer. Dumas was congenially incapable of diplomacy 



4 02 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

and it is obvious that sometimes he did not comprehend the larger 
issues in the balance; but he was tireless in action, unselfish (in spite 
of the ridiculing animadversions in the Paris papers) and inflamed by 
a real love of liberty. He was inconsistent, but forgivably so; he was 
vain, but we can smile at his conviction that he had driven Francis II 
from his throne. His reward from Garibaldi and it was all that he 
desired except permission to hunt in the park of Capo di Monte- 
came on the fourteenth of September when he received a note reading: 

Naples, 14 September, 1860. 

M. Dumas est autoris a occuper, d'ici un an, le petit palais 
Chiatamone, en sa qualite de directeur des fouilles et musses. 

G. GARIBALDI. 

Splendid! A new career! He would have all the savants of Paris 
down to assist him in digging out the lava-buried treasures of 
Pompeii. As the story-teller had become revolutionist so would the 
revolutionist become archaeologist. 

Naples, learning that Dumas had been appointed Director of Exca- 
vations and Museums, expressed violent disapproval. Canards were 
spread abroad that he was wasting the State money in orgies and that 
he was supported at the cost of the town. He was grotesque and 
theatrical, a fantassin who had been placed in the seats of the mighty 
through favoritism. Worst of all, he was a foreigner, and what was 
the purpose of a revolution if not to conserve Italy for the Italians ? 
Dumas was too immersed in his plans for archaeological discovery to 
pay heed to or understand the mounting antagonism of the Neapoli- 
tans. Maximc du Camp, who had followed Garibaldi in his march 
across Sicily, found the newly appointed Director in the Palais Chiata- 
mone one day bowed over the plans of Pompeii which were spread 
out on a long table. Dumas was bubbling with enthusiastic discussion. 
"You will see what we will discover! At every stroke of the pick we 
will bring antiquity to light!" He would write to Paris for savants, 
for archaeologists, for artists to aid in the labors, for scholars to classify 
and number the treasures which would be torn from the jealous earth. 
He thought only of Pompeii, of the house of Diomcdes, of the barrack 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 403 

of the Veterans. "Hie jacct jdmtasl" he said to du Camp, repeating 
the inscription on one of the houses in the buried city. Dumas hoped 
that Victor Emmanuele would place at his disposition a company of 
sapeurs so that the engaging task might be hastened. 

One evening while Dumas was seated at table in the Palais 
Chiatamone surrounded by his friends, among them Maxime du 
Camp, a rumor of angry sound, the noise of shouting men, percolated 
through the windows. Dumas, who had been laughing at one of his 
own witticisms, paused, lifted his head and listened. "Is there a 
manifestation this evening? Against what? Against whom? What 
do they want now? Have they not their Italia una?" His friends, who 
had been forewarned and knew very well what the demonstration was 
against, moved uneasily in their chairs. The shouting mob came 
nearer and through the clamor stentorian voices could be heard: 
"Away with Dumas! To the sea with Dumas!" Maxime du Camp 
and two colonels who were present hurried to the door of the Palais 
where they posted themselves. Next door at Castelnuovo a Hungarian 
company of troopers massed in the first court. The sentinels had been 
doubled and the captain of this company, actually a general of brigade, 
waited nonchalantly, his arms crossed, his back against the wall. The 
undisciplined mob straggled down the road led by a huge fellow in a 
Chinese hat who waved the Italian flag above his head. There were 
about three hundred brawlers in this demonstration, all of them 
shouting "Away with Duma$l Fuori stranicro! To the sea with 
Dumas !" The captain advanced slowly. There were a few sharp 
words from him. The Hungarian troopers fondled the glittering 
blades of their bayonets. The mob broke into straggling elements 
that disappeared down side streets. The captain turned to Maxime du 
Camp, smiled and shrugged his shoulders. It had not taken five 
minutes to quell the antagonistic manifestation. Maxime du Camp 
turned back into the Palais Chiatamone with a heavy heart. 

Dumas sat bowed by the table with his head between his hands, all 
the sparkle vanished from his great childish body. When du Camp 
tapped him lightly on the shoulder he lifted his head and revealed 
two eyes brimming with tears* He said: "I was accustomed to the 
ingratitude of France but I did not expect that of Italy." Instead of 
smiling at the naive vanity of the speech Maxime du Camp was 



404 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

profoundly touched. One of the colonels, who had sheathed his sword 
and returned to the dining room, remarked: "It is the same rabble that 
existed in the time of Masaniello." Dumas shook his shoulders as if 
flinging an incubus from him and answered: "The people of Naples 
are like all other people. To expect a nation not to be ungrateful is 
the same as expecting wolves to be herbivorous. It is we who arc the 
fools we W h weary ourselves for such creatures." The incident 
made a painful impression on the mind of Dumas and the efforts of 
his friends to efface it, a grand dinner, an organized hunt in the park 
of Capo di Monte, and an excursion to Pompeii, failed to lift his 
sadness. When Victor Emmanucle made his triumphant entry into 
Naples Dumas pointed out to Maxime du Camp that the Garibaldians 
were not represented in the line of parade. Life was like that. He 
spoke of boarding the Emma and going to Tripoli. Then, little by 
little, his insouciance reassumcd its ascendancy and the memory of his 
misadventure seemed to vanish. 

Ill 

Dumas remained in Naples for four years. In spite of various 
antagonisms, a thankless populace and financial difficulties, he found 
the warm life in the south far more charming than an existence in 
Paris might prove to be. There was his Mtmoires dc Garibaldi to 
finish, the Histoirc dcs Bourbons dc Naples to write, and his newly 
founded journal, the Independent, to conduct. Back in Paris there 
were still material manifestations of his existence to recall him to that 
fickle public. Two plays had been produced there during the June 
that he had been following the fortunes of Garibaldi. L'Envcrs d'unc 
Conspiration, a comedy in five acts, had opened at the Vaudeville on 
June fourth and on June twelfth Lc Gcntilhommc dc la Montagnc, 
dramatized from El Salvador, had been played at the Porte Saint- 
Martin. Neither production was of any importance. Two episodes 
marked November, 1860. On the nineteenth a dramatization of La 
Dame dc Monsoreau, made with Maquet before the split between the 
two collaborators, was presented at the Ambigu-Comujiie with the 
excellent Mlinguc in the r61c of Chicot. It scored a success. And 
toward the last of the month little Emilic Cordier was hurried back 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 4<>5 

to Paris for her accouchement. That also was successful for it resulted 
in Micaclle-Clelic-Cccilia, for whom Garibaldi consented to assume 
the duties of godfather. Dumas, on the first of January, 1861, wrote 
a letter to the little mother. 

Joy and happiness to thee, my dear love of a child, who, for my 
New Year's gift, has given me the good news that my little Micaelle 
has come into the world and that her mother is getting on so well. 

You know, my dear baby, that I preferred a girl. I will tell you 
why. I love Alcxandre better than Marie. I see Marie only once a 
year and I can see Alcxandre whenever I please. So all the love 
that I might have had for Marie now falls to the share of my dear 
little Micaelle, whom I see couched beside her tiny mother whom 
I forbid to get up and go out before I arrive. I hope to arrange 
everything so that I may be in Paris by the twelfth it will be 
impossible for me to get there sooner in spite of my desire. 

If I tell you this, my dear love, believe the truth of it: In an hour 
my heart has grown big enough to make room for this new love. 

It is necessary that I leave behind me, as you know, a certain 
number of articles. 

We have founded a committee of elections which I am obliged 
to attend twice a week from two until five o'clock. I will charge 
two or three of my colleagues with the care of the journal during 
my absence. . . . 

If, during the next few months, you will not be separated from 
your child, we will take a little house at Ischia, in the best air and 
on the prettiest island in all Naples, and then I will come to pass 
two or three days with you each week all through the spring. In 
short, rely on me to love both mother and child. 

Au rcvoir, ma petite chtric; embrace well for me Donna Micaelle 
who is no larger than a thumb, according to Madame de C. . . . 
I will answer her letter by the next post as well as your mother's, 
whom I embrace. 

Atoia* infant. 



To think tfoat I received your letter only today, January first, and 
that you will not get this, perhaps, before the sixteenth I 
Je 



406 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

It is possible that Dumas was back in Paris for a brief visit later in 
the month he made several flying trips to the French capital during 
*hi$ four years' absence and it is equally possible that it was upon this 
trip that he attempted to interest some friends in the establishment of 
a restaurant in Naples. From Director of Excavations and Museums, 
a post which seems to have suffered a quiet demise, to the position of 
host in an eating house was not such a vast jump for a man who 
regarded food and its preparation as one of the arts. The restaurant, 
however, never opened and Dumas confined himself, instead, to 
'creating rare dishes in his own kitchen and advising Garibaldi how 
to conduct his diplomacy. He was a familiar figure in the streets of 
Naples now and the active hatred against him seems to have mellowed 
into a contemptuous forbearance on the part of the Neapolitans. They 
read the views expressed in the Independent and agreed or disagreed 
according to the color of the political cloaks they wore. Garibaldi 
grew a little impatient of the flood of suggestions that poured from 
'the willing lips of Dumas, and the intimacy that had been so well 
established during the period from May to September, 1860, gradually 
cooled. Dumas continued to labor industriously with his pen, to out- 
line new books for his Paris market, books that were often mere 
rewritings, translations, or old notes flung together, and Time, once 
so swift with martial promises, slowed down to a sedentary period. 
Jsmilie Cordier, still in her little midshipman outfit, returned to her 
huge lover and life settled down to an interim that was interrupted 
by only one incident, an incident as painful to the pride of Dumas as 
it was amusing to the jealous and malicious observers of his stormy 
career. 

One morning in October, 1862, Dumas noticed in his mail a fat 
envelope with a London postmark. Opening the sealed coverture and 
drawing forth the crinkly paper he read the introductory lines: La 
Junte grtco-dbanaise, sous la prtsidencc dc S. A, Ic prince Georges 
Castriotc Sfyndcrbcg, au trts illustre tcrivain, Alexandrc Dumas. 
Skanderbeg! Come, this was of moment He read further. "The 
Greco-Albanian Junta believes that you could do for Athens and 
Constantinople what you have accomplished for Palermo and Naples/' 
The round face of Dumas beamed as he perused the flattering, ora- 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 407 

torical letter, an epistle calculated with a sly dexterity to catch the vain 
imagination and melodramatic megalomania of the Frenchman. A 
cause was being thrust before him, no less than the liberation of Al- 
bania and Greece and the destruction of Moslem power in Europe. 
"Can you remain indifferent to the appeal of the Albanians, to that 
of Skanderbeg?" Dumas began to see himself as a great liberator, a 
Garibaldi in his own right, a George Washington* In the back of his 
own mind he had always been a hero, a militant antagonist of tyranny, 
a leader of enslaved men, and now the very opportunity to tread nobly 
across the vast stage of the world was being placed before him. The 
letter pointed out what the liberation of Albania would mean: the 
triumph of Christianity in Asia, the union of the Greek and Latin 
churches, and half a dozen other miraculous changes conducive to the 
general peace of Europe. It was sublime. This Georges Castriote 
Skanderbeg, direct descendant of the noble sixteenth century hero 
whose name was a part of the glories of history, honored the name of 
his great family. Dumas, flattered into the unreasonableness of mat 
ing no inquiries as to the source of this call to action, responded with 
a memorandum outlining a plan of martial and diplomatic develop- 
ment for the Junta. This memorandum one of those flowery schemes 
Dumas loved to create was answered by another letter from London 
authorizing the friend of Garibaldi to open negotiations with the 
Italian government, to begin a campaign of publicity and propaganda 
for the new cause (at his own expense, of course) and to secure per- 
mission for the Junta to establish a base of war supplies at Naples. 
Twice in the letter did the courteous and clever Prince Skanderbcg 
refer to Dumas as "cher marquis." That was the final touch and 
Dumas surrendered himself to a cause of which he knew neither the 
purpose, except vaguely, nor the conspirators. Was there an actual 
Albanian cause? Was there even a remote possibility of achieving 
such a cause if it existed? Was there a true Prince Skanderbeg living? 
Dumas lost his poor sentimental ambitious head and offered the 
Emma and his Italian newspaper to the cause. 

Somewhere in London a rascal laughed as he saw what a gullible 
fish his enticing and romantic bait had caught The interchange of 
correspondence continued. "Our secretary** G. Cyprc was to be sent 
to Dumas, Skanderbeg did uot want the throne of Grcecej let the 



4 o8 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

King of Italy, Victor Emmanuele, place his own dynasty on the 
throne. Dumas suggested Prince Napoleon but the idea of a Bona- 
parte was hastily brushed aside by the canny Albanian Prince, The 
Junta offered Dumas the post of "general surintendant des depots 
militaires" in the potential revolutionary forces, and when Dumas 
modestly put the offer aside, the Junta insisted, saying: "You are a 
poet. In all times the greatest poets have been the greatest warriors." 
Byron, the great Lord Byron, who died at Missolonghi, was put for- 
ward as a model and the flattered old Frenchman, sitting in his 
disorderly palace in Naples, finally consented to his unexpected honor. 
One day the official notification arrived. It read: 

Scutari d'Albanie, le 2 Janvier, 1863 
Armec Chretienne d'Orient 
Etat-major general 

No. 103 

Objet Nomination au grade de general 
Monsieur, 

J'ai Thonneur de vous informer que par lettre patente de ce jour 
S. A. R. monseigneur Skanderbeg vous a nomm au grade de 
General Surintendant des depots militakes dans TArm^e chretienne 
d'orient. 

S. E. le Secretaire au departement de la guerre est charge dc 
1'expedition de votre brevet ainsi que dc rglcments et ordonnanccs 
militaires. 
Recevez, Gen&al, Pexpression de mon estime. 

Lc chef dc I'fitat-Major g6iral, 

HUGH FORBES, 
Licutenant-g6n6raL 

"General" Dumas strutted about his study like a big bear that has 
been fed several handfuls of sugar. He who had been no more than a 
story-teller laughed at in his own country or a filibusterer scorned by 
the Neapolitan people was now a Liberator in his own right, a gene- 
ralissimo in the forces that were about to sweep the hated Turk from 
the civilized world. He possessed no dtp&u militaircs over which to 
function and neither did he perceive any army mobilizing to destroy 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 409 

the Sublime Porte, but all that, no doubt, would materialize in time. 
Surely a hundred thousand patriots were biding their time, waiting for 
just such leaders as Prince Skanderbeg and himself. The negotiations 
continued. Prince Skanderbeg accepted the boat so generously offered 
by "General" Dumas and forwarded a list of names, men he thought 
would prove trustworthy in developing the cause. On February eighth 
the newly appointed "General Surintcndant dcs depdts militaires" 
communicated the information that the situation in Italy was dubious, 
that the antagonistic parties of Bourbon adherents and Massini patriots 
were the Scylla and Charybdis between which the Junta would have 
to steer a careful course, and that not a pistol should be sent into Italy 
without the authorization of the established government. At the same 
time he gave the prices of the arms that he had purchased at Marseilles 
for Garibaldi: revolvers Lefaucheux ou Devesme prem&re qualiti, 
quatrc-vingt francs, avcc Icurs bcdonncttcs; les carabines raycs, avec 
leurs sabres, quatre-vingt francs. He also inquired naively whether he 
should arm the Emma. Just what port he thought of storming with 
this eighty-ton vessel is a question; perhaps he intended an onslaught 
on Constantinople. It is amusing to picture Dumas dashing to and fro 
in Naples interviewing his friends among the officials about the Greco- 
Albanian Junta, hurrying to Turin to secure protection privileges for 
the landing of arms, planning out campaigns on paper, securing the 
lowest prices for arms and ammunitions, meditating the placing of 
cannon on the Emma (two good-sized guns would have sunk it) and 
whispering prophecies of earth-shaking battles on the Golden Horn, 
in Albania and in Greece. One is gratified that no crack-brained 
inventor ever suggested that he attempt a trip to the moon. 

The termination of all this was the appearance of Signor Silvio 
Spaventa. Signor Silvio Spaventa was the chief of police in Naples, 
and one of his special duties, apparently, was to keep an eye on this 
mad Frenchman from whom anything might be expected. He ap- 
peared in the residence of "General" Dumas one morning as the bearer 
of sad information. The Prince of Skanderbeg was a swindler, a 
mystificateur, and the Greco-Albanian Junta was a fake, Dtunas, like 
a great gossc, had been taken in by fine language and an impossible 
proposition. The "General" listened in humiliated dismay to this 
wrecking of his day-dream and Signer Silvio Spaventa tripped away 



4 io THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

with a mocking smile on his lips. It was some time before Dumas 
recovered from this blow and he was careful to keep the affair as 
secret as possible from his malevolent and laughing critics in Paris. 
He rented the Emma to an explorer and was glad enough to see it 
sail out of sight. He returned with a sigh to his reams of paper and 
quill pens. It was necessary to write if he was to live. Perhaps that 
was all he was good for, the eternal setting down of word after word 
on endless sheets of paper for scurrilous publications that postponed 
payment as long as they could. Goodbye to his dream of a General's 
career in Greece and Albania and Turkey. He would never ride a 
caracoling charger through the narrow streets of the city of Constan- 
tine. After all, he was sixty-one and that was a rash age at which to 
consider revolutionizing the world. Skanderbeg! The wretch! He 
had taken him in with his romantic name. Later he learned that the 
pseudo Prince was a low intriguer, an "irnbroglione dc$ Pouillcs? who 
had been born in Cerignola or Canossa. He never discovered who 
Lieutenant-General Hugh Forbes was. Perhaps he was some inebriate 
whose military headquarters were one of the public houses of Soho. 
Somewhat abashed, Dumas discouraged all conversation about this 
unfortunate affair and turned to other matters of more immediate 
interest. There was still the Independent to conduct, plenty of edi- 
torials to write outlining the diplomatic policies of Italy, and a new 
recipe for ravioli to be run down. Life was not as black as it might 
be even if the secret agents of the government were observing him 
with an unpleasant fixity and wondering when, if ever, he would 
remove himself from the fair city of Naples. 

Henry Labouchrc had an amusing meeting with Dumas during 
this period. He strolled into a Genoese restaurant for breakfast one 
morning and the first person he saw was Dumas bowed over a huge 
omelette. Seated beside the story-teller was a pretty young girl dressed 
as a Circassian boy, who, of course, turned out to be fimilie Cordier. 
Dumas welcomed Labouchre expansively and explained that he and 
fimilie had just landed from a yacht and were spending the day in 
Genoa. The morning passed to a stream of agreeable conversation 
and after luncheon Dumas suggested that Labouch^re (who was a 
young and presentable man) accompany them to a show villa ia the 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 4" 

neighborhood. Laboucherc, as interested in the sparkling eyes of 
fimilie as he was in the thousand and one talcs of Dumas, instantly 
agreed and they set out for the villa. When they reached the imposing 
dwelling they were informed that it was not open to the public that 
day. "Inform your master," said Dumas to the servant, "that Alex- 
andre Dumas is at his door." This speech had the same effect as Ali 
Baba's "Open, Sesame." A moment later Dumas, milie Cordier and 
Labouchere were in the dining room, a typically Italian domestic 
scene revealing itself before them. The father and mother of the 
family were present as well as several well-grown children. Dumas 
was somewhat taken aback for a minute and then, recovering his 
aplomb, introduced fimilie Cordier and Henry Labouchere rather 
vaguely as "me$ cnfants" The three visitors were invited to sit down 
and partake of coffee and after this refreshment the lovely gardens 
were exhibited. The Italian owner of the villa and Dumas walked 
first and behind them wandered Labouchere and fimilie sweetly hold- 
ing hands to denote their brotherly and sisterly affection, fimilie, who 
was in a playful mood, whispered to Labouchere that Dumas was very 
jealous of her, and Labouchere instantly doubled his attentions to his 
slim little sister. Dumas stumbled about the garden with one wrathful 
eye turned back on "mes enfants" and the other absently taking in 
the flaming beds of flowers. "What on earth arc you doing?" he 
inquired hollowly when "brother and sister" disappeared behind a 
rose-bush. Labouchere innocently replied that he was embracing his 
sister. Dumas restrained a growl of rage and continued to follow his 
Italian host. Behind him skipped his affectionate children. 

The stream of books continued to flow from the pen of Dumas 
during this residence in Naples. In 1861 there appeared Bric-b-Brac, 
a series of cauteries rescued from various journals; Lcs Garibaldiens: 
Revolution dc Sidle et dc Naples, a compilation of the despatches for- 
warded to Paris; and Les Morts vont vite, memorial articles on old 
friends. In 1862 La Boule dc Neige appeared, a Russian talc written 
in the Caucasus; Itdiens et FlammdeS, a number of historical and 
biographical sketches; Trots Hdttrcs, a small book containing essays 
on Michael Angelo, Titian and Raphael; and Sultanetta, another 
Slavic story. In 1863 appeared Jane, a volume containing ScveraJ 



412 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

sketches besides the title story which seem to come from Russian 
sources; Madame dc Chamblay, a novel purportedly based on the 
career of a vanished friend; La Princcsse Flora, a translation from 
Marlinsky; and La Dame dc Voluptt, a work based on the Memoires 
de Mile, de Luynes. It will be observed that none of this work was 
important. It was hastily conceived material in the form of transla- 
tions, paraphrases and journalistic cauteries calculated to fill the 
columns of periodicals. In other words, it was bread-and-butter work 
requiring little thought and no revision. Most of it is still readable, 
and that is the best that can be said of it. The creative vein of Dumas 
seemed to have spent itself. The great days were over. Dumas was 
more than sixty years old, and although his large body still retained 
a perceptible vigor, the brain was slackening. 

Time passed and vague thoughts of Paris, that joyous Paris of the 
Second Empire which had now endured for more than a decade, 
flitted across his mind like nostalgic birds. On the day before Christ- 
mas, 1863, he wrote to Micaelle-Clelie-Ccilia. 

My dear baby, 

As thy good grandmother, whom thou must love dearly, as well 
as thy little mother, writes me that you have need of money, I send 
thee 150 francs for thy New Year's gift 

I shall try to send thee also a little hamper of good things. 

There will be nothing to pay to the messenger who brings it. 

I embrace thee very tenderly. Thy father who loves thee, 

ALEX. DUMAS. 

Shortly afterward the "dear little mother," fimilie Cordier, vanished 
from the life of Dumas. She had proved too acquiescent to some 
Parisian admirer during one of her visits to the French capital, and 
Dumas, hearing of this sad fall from grace, decided that it would be 
best to place fimilic among his memories. He would have to do with- 
out his little midshipman. The days began to crawl slowly. Garibaldi, 
tired of unsolicited advice, withdrew from his old filibustered After 
the rift between the Dictator and Victor Emmanuele the Indcpettdant 
continued for some time as an organ of Garibaldian thought, but few 
people read it. Dumas was wearying of his enterprise. He began to 



THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE 413 

read about Lord Nelson, Lady Hamilton, and the strange series of 
events which occurred in Naples in 1798 and 1799, when the Bourbon 
Ferdinand was overthrown by the French in the former year and 
was restored to the throne by Cardinal Ruffo in the next. This was a 
natural thing for Dumas to do for he had already written a history 
of the Bourbons in Naples for the Independant The result of this 
assiduous reading was the beginning of a long fcuillcton novel called 
La San Felice which he sold to VAvenir national in Paris. One day 
the officials of Victor Emmanuele came to him with protests about his 
editorials in the Independant and, disgusted with the whole business 
and out of sorts with Naples, Dumas threw the periodical to the 
winds. Let it go. He was tired and depressed. There was nothing 
left for him in Naples. His militant activities in behalf of Italian 
unification were forgotten and he was greeted with ridicule wherever 
he turned. He was just a stout old man with grey hair and a great 
laugh. But he was still Ulysses in his own mind. It was not too late 
to seek another and fairer haven, and the sea upon which he would 
set sail to find that haven would be the sea of Louis-Napoleon, the 
gay city of Paris. Early in April, 1864, the Parisian journals published 
a notice reading: "Nous apprenons quc notrc illustrc romancier, Alex- 
andre Dumas, vicnt dc quitter Naples ct sera & Paris dans quelques 
jours!' Gargantua was returning home. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

THE CHANGED WORLD 



THE Paris to which Dumas returned was an accelerated city charged 
with the electric verve of the Second Empire. The pale-faced Emperor 
with the dead eyes passed in his rumbling coach on his way to Com- 
piegne, with the beautiful young Spanish woman by his side. In the 
court of the Tuileries the Prince Imperial rode his pony, Bouton d'Or. 
The recently completed boulevards flashed with life, and extravagant 
equipages drawn by prancing horses carried their lovely freight to 
the Boi, La Comtesse dc Castiglionc. La Comtesse de Pourtales. 
Madame Rimski-Korsakoflf. The mysterious Marquise de Paiva, It 
was the era of bds and tableaux vivants and private theatricals. Optra- 
Bouffe reigned and the melodies of Offenbach and Herv< sounded in 
the salons and ateliers. It was in vain that Jules Janin thundered in 
the Journal dcs Dibats: "ce perfide Meilhac, ce traitre Halvy, ce 
miserable Offenbach qui profanent tous les chefs-d'oeuvre et tous les 
souvenirs"; the engaging strains of "La Belle H<9ne" drowned his 
carping voice. The cabarets and bastringucs echoed to the intoxicating 
measures of Pars four la Crlte and Bu qui Javance, while the insid- 
ious hips of Hortcnse Schneidfer were the despair of the young dandies 
at Chez Mabillc or the Closcric dc LUas. Everywhere there was 
dancing. The masked ball at the Op&a was an institution about which 
fluttered the gay doniinos like moths. Then there was the Casino 
Cadet and the Prado, the Chateau dcs Flcurs and the Grande Chau- 
miere, the Salle Valentino and the Bal Bourdon, DCS Acacias and the 
Pr-Catalan> the Alcazar and a dozen and one others, all public 
dancing places, where a melange of diverse classes gathered nightly to 
dance the waltz and the polka and the mazurka and sometimes the 

414 



THE CHANGED WORLD 415 

devilish can-can. Plump calves covered with white silk stockings shot 
into the air above rouged mouths and smiling eyes. There was a 
mingled scent of musk and violet perfume as the legion of Cythcra 
pushed their way by the tables where champagne corks popped, and 
the violins squeaked the Invocation a Venus. 

Far away in barbarous Mexico Maximilien turned his face toward 
the death that he should meet at Qucretaro, and in the stone city of 
Berlin a stout man with a walrus mustache counted up the cannon 
of Prussia; but still the dancing went on in Paris, still the carriages 
slurred their way along the Champs lyses carrying the laughing 
courtesans, and still the heavy-lidded Emperor with the waxed im- 
perial drove forth from the Tuilerics surrounded by the glittering 
helmets of his royal guard. In certain quarters there were premoni- 
tions of impending political cataclysm. Men met and talked in the 
charming salon of Madame Adam. Lcgouv, Bixio, Garnier-Pags, 
Jules Ferry, Pelletan. And sitting in the Cafe Procope was a warm- 
blooded Southerner named Leon Gambetta. There were infrequent 
pauses when the bright sun that shone above Paris in the sixties was 
chilled by a curious wind from the Rhine and there were ominous 
twilights when the nocturnal builders of barricades stirred uneasily 
in their slumbers in the dark alleys and secret cellars. But for the 
moment all was surface sparkle and unconstrained gaiety, a jovial, 
licentious whirl of living wherein the bars of morality were let down 
and which abetted the growth of such personalities as Hortense 
Schneider, Cora Pearl, Blanche d'Antigny (the original of fimile 
Zola's Nana), Adle Courtois (who called herself the Baronne dc 
Steinberg), Constance Resuchc, Juliette dc la Canbiire, Juliette 
ritalicnnc (called La Barucci)> Anna Dcslion, La Bcrta, Alice La- 
bruyfrc, Adilc R&ny, L&>nide Leblanc, Caroline Hassc, Marguerite 
Bellangcr, and Esther Duparc. It is pertinent to set these names down 
for through their dominance of the social scene they indicated a 
decadence that was unmistakable. Even in high society an extreme 
freedom of deportment had manifested itself, a freedom that sanc- 
tioned the appearance of the Comtcssc dc Castiglionc at a bal costumed 
scantily as die Queen of Hearts and the still more daring appearance 
of Madame Rimsky-Korsakoflf at the Tuilerics disguised (or ratter, 
undisguised) as Salammbo in a transparent dress slit up both sides. 



416 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

It was back to this effervescent capital of pleasure that Dumas, pachy- 
dermous in appearance and with slowly failing faculties, returned in 
the early spring of 1864, a spring that developed into a painfully hot 
May, so oppressive in fact, that exhausted pedestrians suffered severely 
from it. 

Dumas, who possessed no plcd-b-tcrrc in Paris now, went to the 
rue de Richelieu, 112, where the editor, Polydore Millaud, had con- 
centered his various publications, including the Petit Journal and the 
Journal lllustre. Here he was provisionally housed in quarters on the 
fifth floor facing the boulevard, and here he insouciantly installed a 
temperamental cantatricc who called herself Fanny Gordoza and who 
aspired to the Theatre-Italien. Fanny possessed a terrifically squalling 
voice of the coloratura variety, and it was her purpose to provide 
herself with singing teachers at the expense of Dumas. Alexandre 
fils, who had met his father upon his arrival, gazed at the potential 
opera diva (she was "unc brune asscz appfoissante qui avdt doubU 
Ic cap de la trentainc") and sighed. His father would never change, 
Dumas was all ebulliency. He wanted to promenade the boulevards, 
to greet old acquaintances, to familiarize himself at once with this 
new Paris. They would peregrinate the city and discuss life and love 
and Italian sauces with old friends. La causcrie, that was what made 
life worth living. Where was Gauticr, the good Tho? In Neuilly? 
Very well, to Neuilly they would go. Alexandre fils protested that it 
was late, that it would be midnight before they arrived there, that 
Gauticr was aging. Dumas waved him aside. No matter. A gesture 
conceived was a gesture executed. The Romantics were ageless. To 
Neuilly they traveled, and Gauticr, tucked away in his bed, was 
awakened out of a deep slumber by the sound of an insistent voice 
bellowing outside his door. The astonished household was galvanized 
into immediate activity by this gargantuan apparition who had ap- 
peared so unexpectedly in the quiet suburb. He was admitted and 
until four o'clock in the morning he kept them roaring with laughter 
at his badinages, talcs, and inventions. When the elephantine form 
barged out of Gautier's door the author of Mademoiselle de Maupin 
stood with aching ribs and exhausted mind and watched him go. 

Dumas adjusted himself at once to this new Paris. He traversed 
the streets and was greeted cordially by acquaintances. **I am never 



THE CHANGED WORLD 417 

more popular on the boulevards than when I return from a far-away 
journey," he announced with a broad smile. There were editors to 
see, both new and old. There was his romance La San Felice to finish 
for L'Avenir National. There were articles for Polydore Millaud's 
string of journals, and there were theater managers to sound out about 
prospective plays. If he noticed a lack of enthusiasm in some quarters 
he gave no sign of it but bolstered up his courage all the more with 
his own boisterousness. But Paris proved too hot and the exhausted 
writer bethought himself of the joys of the country. It was all very 
well to stroll about in the evening when the air was filled with music 
and the women kicked their heels above their heads in the public bdls, 
but to sit in a dusty office all day and write while the perspiration 
ran down one's bowed back was another matter, fimile de Girardin 
owned a beautiful little house near Enghien-les-Bains and to that 
neighborhood Dumas would go. He inquired and within a few days 
had secured for the summer the Villa Catinat on the Avenue du Lac 
at Saint-Gratien. Within another few days he was installed there with 
the warbling Fanny Gordoza, two secretaries and a fresh supply 
of pens. 

Life at the Villa Catinat bore some resemblance to a mad-house. 
The usual string of parasites fastened upon Dumas and existence was 
further complicated by the caterwauling of Fanny, the squeakings of 
numerous musicians and the occasional rows that took place. It was 
the old tale of Monte Cristo over again but on a decidedly reduced 
scale. Downstairs the noisy guests wasted the substance of Dumas, 
and upstairs in a huge billiard room the old writer labored. For his 
desk he took the billiard table and strewed the green baize with a mis- 
cellaneous litter of papers, books and brochures. La San Felice swept 
toward its conclusion and a dramatization of Les Mohicans de Paris 
followed, since the manager of the Th&tre de la Gait6 had demanded 
a play. From his window Dumas could gaze over the lovely country- 
side and see the gothic architecture of fimile de Girardin's villa* Near 
at hand was the handsome residence of the Princesse Mathilde. It was 
to these two places that Dmmas would escape when the stridencks of 
Fanny and her teachers became unbearable. Fanny was obsessed! with 
an ijKxmsisteJit lust f or unreal kiKwledgc, aiad am iiBCiidii^ proees- 



418 THE INCREDIBLE MARQUIS 

sion of profcsscurs dc piano, maitrcs dc chants and accompagnatcurs 
pounded, yowled and scraped their way through the Villa Catinat 
Dumas bore all this with fortitude. As each intruder made his appear- 
ance he asked to see the great man. With that liberality that was his 
ruin the great man promptly invited the unheard-of musician to 
dinner. Once gazing about the dinner table at an assembly of pro- 
fcsscurs whose names he did not know he cried: "I am the prey of 
music r They were devouring him. Others were devouring him as 
well. Grisier, his old fencing teacher, sent an exceedingly small ham 
tvith a note that he would follow it for dinner. Dumas forgot the 
date (perhaps conveniently) and went to hunt at Argenteuil. When 
Grisier arrived, accompanied by several friends, and found no host 
to greet him he lost his temper and demanded his ham. His friends 
penetrated the billiard-room and calmly purloined several books and 
small objects as souvenirs of the master. 

There was, of course, no semblance of order at the Villa Catinat. 
Fanny was useless as the director of a household and the untidiness of 
Dumas had increased with the years. Everything was at sixes and 
sevens, and the frightened domestics ran to and fro like chickens 
under the loud rages of Fanny. Once she discharged the entire corps- 
there were three servants the day before Dumas intended to give a 
large dinner. With that sanguinity with which he attacked all things 
the old writer turned himself into a cook, ferreted about the empty 
cupboards and discovering some rice, some tomatoes and a little butter, 
concocted a mountainous riz aux tomatcs which he stuffed with the 
sliced saucisson and ham that one guest had brought For days after 
the dozen invitts talked of nothing but the succulent dish. It is 
astonishing that Dumas could accomplish any work at all in this 
eternal hub-bub, yet labor he did and La San Felice drew to its con- 
clusion in I'Avenir National and the script of Lcs Mohicans dc Pans 
w^ forwarded to the Gait*. It was a tired old man who appeared 
before the assembled cast but his eyes still sparkled and his vigor, 
viewed superficially, seemed unimpaired. It was the Dumas of the 
thirties and forties, too, who responded directly to the Emperor when 

L 7, CCnsor arrCStcd Ac P roduction of L*s Mohicans dc Pans. 

5irc, he wrote, "there were in 1830, and there still arc today, three 

men at the head of French literature. These three men arc 'Victor 



THE CHANGED WORLD 419 

Hugo, Lamartine, and myself. Victor Hugo is exiled; Lamartine is 
ruined. I cannot be exiled like Hugo; nothing in my writings, in my 
life or in my words lends itself to proscription. But I can be ruined 
like Lamartine, and, in effect, I am being ruined. I do not know what 
malevolence animates the censor against me. I have written and 
published twelve hundred volumes. It is not for me to appreciate 
their literary value. Translated into all languages they have gone as 
far as steam can carry them. Though I am the least worthy of the 
three, these works have made me the most popular in the five parts 
of the world, perhaps because the first is a thinker, the second is a 
dreamer, w